Barry Trotz has proven to be one of the NHL’s best coaches and now, he’s emerging as one of the league’s best lobbyists as well.
Specifically when it comes to pumping the tires of Nicklas Backstrom.
“He’s in that same mold as a [Patrice] Bergeron,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “They’re complete players, they’re fantastic on the draws, in every situation, on both sides of the puck and when the game is on the line.
“That is, to me, why he should be either getting some all-star recognition or at least some Selke recognition for sure. He’s a fantastic player.”
Backstrom is having a terrific year for the NHL-leading Caps, sitting first on the team in scoring (31 points in 30 games) while averaging 19:30 TOI per night. That continues with the standard of consistent productivity he’s set throughout his career — Backstrom has been virtually a point-a-game player throughout his nine years in the league, with 603 points in 607 contests.
But for Trotz, Backstrom’s value is more than just about scoring.
And that could be part of the reason for lobbying.
For as good as the Swedish center is, hardware isn’t exactly stuffing his shelves. The closest he’s ever come to winning a major NHL award was finishing second to Patrick Kane in the 2008 Calder voting; Backstrom’s never finished higher than 10th in Selke voting and never higher than fourth for a spot on an NHL All-Star Team.
Bergeron, meanwhile, has thrice been named the league’s best defensive forward.
It’ll be interesting to see how much Washington’s success this year plays into Backstrom’s favor. These are no longer your high-scoring, firewagon Caps — heading into the Christmas break, they sit first in the NHL in goals allowed, with 71.
One has to wonder if that defensive prowess will change perceptions about Backstrom, especially come awards season.