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Nicklas Backstrom expected to sign extension with Washington Capitals

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 17, 2010; D01

PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Capitals are expected to announce on Monday morning that they have re-signed star center Nicklas Backstrom, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Backstrom, who is coming off a breakout season, was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.

Details of the contract were not immediately available, but it's believed to be long term with an annual salary upward of $6 million. The 22-year-old Swede earned $2.4 million last season in the final year of an incentive-laden entry-level contract.

The Capitals have called a 10:30 a.m. news conference to "make a significant player-related announcement" at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Backstrom is expected to attend the news conference, the source said.

A team spokesman declined to comment. General Manager George McPhee and Backstrom's agent, Marc Levine, did not respond to text messages.

ESPN.com also reported Sunday that the Capitals are expected to announce a contract extension for Backstrom.

Backstrom's new deal will ensure that he'll return as Alex Ovechkin's setup man and that the team's core of young stars will remain intact after a Presidents' Trophy-winning regular season came to a stunning end after a seven-game first-round loss to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens.

Ovechkin is locked up until 2020-21; Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich are signed through next season; and Mike Green is under contract through 2011-12.

Backstrom, who notched 33 goals and 68 assists, became only the fourth Capital to reach the 100-point plateau, joining Ovechkin (four times), Mike Gartner and Dennis Maruk (once each). Backstrom also had seven multigoal games after posting two in his first two seasons while his 189 assists since 2007-08 are behind only Henrik Sedin (204) and Joe Thornton (197) during that span.

Backstrom finished tied with Ovechkin for the team lead in goals (five) in the playoffs and was second to his linemate in points (nine). He recorded his first hat trick in Game 2 of against Montreal to lead the Capitals to a 6-5 victory, but he was held without a point in the final three games of the series.

Backstrom has never missed a game, suiting up for 246 consecutive regular season contests, the longest streak on the team.

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