Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Washington Capitals made the first move of what is expected to be a busy offseason yesterday by agreeing to terms with Nicklas Backstrom, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2006, team officials confirmed.
Although the Swedish center is only 19 years old and has never played an NHL game, he is considered a cornerstone player and will be expected to make an immediate impact next season, likely skating on a line with all-star Alex Ovechkin or Alexander Semin.
Backstrom is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday to sign a three-year entry-level contract, which is similar to Ovechkin's bonus-laden deal. It could be worth as much as $4 million annually.
After signing the paperwork, the newest member of the Capitals will be introduced to reporters. Majority owner Ted Leonsis, General Manager George McPhee and Coach Glen Hanlon also are expected attend the news conference.
Team officials wanted Backstrom in Washington last season, but the player informed them in July that he intended to spend another season in his homeland, saying he needed another year to mature mentally and physically before joining the NHL. He notched 12 goals and 28 assists last season to lead Brynas of the Swedish Elite League in scoring.
-- Tarik El-Bashir