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Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, right, of Sweden, celebrates with teammate Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, after scoring a goal against the Atlanta Thrashers during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, April 9, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez) (Luis Alvarez)
Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, right, of Sweden, celebrates with teammate Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, after scoring a goal against the Atlanta Thrashers during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, April 9, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez) (Luis Alvarez)

Backstrom takes term over cash Add to ...

It looks like we're going to have to get used to seeing Nicklas Backstrom setting up Alex Ovechkin in Washington.

Today Backstrom got a new 10-year deal, coming not long after Ovechkin signed his own 13-year one, and together they'll cost about $15.8-million against the cap the next decade (assuming there's not a trade). At the moment, that's about 28 per cent of the salary cap. Throw in Alex Semin at $6-million and Mike Green at $5-million, and you're up to 47 per cent.

It's a good thing they've got a couple cheap young options in goal.

Tyler at mc79hockey has had a couple interesting posts about Backstrom of late, and it was his view that he would likely get a deal north of $7-million a season just based on the big numbers he's put up. Backstrom's got 258 points in his first three seasons, has yet to miss a game, and is one of only five players in the last 10 years to post a 100-point season in his first three years in the league. (Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin and Staal are the others.)

That's a pretty good starting ground for negotiations on a contract, especially when players like Anze Kopitar and Paul Stasny recently signed deals for $6.8-million and $6.6-million a season and had more ordinary starts.

(So much for that reasonable second contract after players are off their entry level deal.)

Playing with Ovechkin, as Tyler calculates, obviously helped Backstrom hit those totals, but that doesn't change the fact that the open market would dictate a big, big deal for a player that young with that much already proven.

There's also an argument to be made that he certainly could have had a far bigger payday had he signed a four-year contract, taking him to 2014 and unrestricted free agency, and hit the open market, likely with a seven-year track record of success. What Backstrom's done instead is taken the security of a long-term deal, knowing that even if he's injured or ineffective, he'll get paid all the way to 2020 and age 32.

We really don't have any concrete idea of where the NHL's salary cap is going to go over the next decade, but given the recession merely kept it level, here's betting we see it slowly rise, even if only with inflation. Five or six years from now, it's likely we're looking at somewhere close to a $65- or $70-million ceiling, and both Backstrom and Ovechkin's numbers could look fairly reasonable.

Especially if they're both 100-point players all the way along.

 

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