T.J. Oshie

Capitals sign Nicklas Backstrom to five-year, $46M extension

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The Washington Capitals face big questions about their future, but Nicklas Backstrom will remain a part of it. The Capitals were able to sign Backstrom to a five-year, $46 million contract extension on Tuesday.

Backstrom, 32, will see that $9.2M AAV kick in starting in 2020-21, and then expire after 2024-25. Interestingly, Evgeny Kuznetsov ($7.8M cap hit) and T.J. Oshie ($5.75M) also see their deals expire after that 2024-25 campaign.

Apparently Backstrom negotiated his own contract, focusing on getting top dollar, while the Caps wanted to account for his age:

Backstrom has ranked as one of the NHL’s more underappreciated stars for years. The Capitals note that he leads the franchise in assists (668) and is also the only active player to generate 50+ assists in six consecutive seasons. Backstrom ranks second in franchise history in points (908), second only to Alex Ovechkin (1,255).

A quick cap outlook after Capitals sign Backstrom

Going truly deep on the Capitals’ future decisions is probably the job for a full post, but we can take a quick peek.

Cap Friendly places Washington’s cap spending at about $71.1M on 16 roster spots heading into 2020-21. If the ceiling remains around $81.5M, that would leave the Caps with about $10.4M in space.

Such comments serve as a reminder that the Capitals face other tough decisions, both soon and off in the distance.

Most pressingly, Braden Holtby (30, current cap hit: $6.1M) needs a new contract after this season. Ilya Samsonov may or may not be the future. If the Capitals find some way to sign Holtby, it would probably require making painful omissions elsewhere.

The Capitals also must determine what Alex Ovechkin’s next contract will look like. The 34-year-old’s $9.538M cap hit runs out after 2020-21.

It will be fascinating to see how Backstrom ages. His smart, borderline Selke-worthy style may grow old quite gracefully. Still, it’s kind of startling to realize that he’s 32 already. Some old folks might take that as a reminder of our (er, their!) mortality.

Did the Capitals make the right call with this hefty extension? Did Backstrom make a mistake by haggling on his own? What should the Caps do with Holtby and others?

With the Capitals running rampant over the league and not that far removed from that glorious Stanley Cup, extending Backstrom certainly feels like a crowd-pleaser right now, at least. Frankly, the slick Swede was so underpaid before, it also seems fair.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Full 2020 NHL All-Star Game rosters with Perron, Oshie, Marner, Hughes added

2020 NHL All-Star Game rosters Marner Oshie Hughes Perron added
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The 2020 NHL All-Star Game rosters are now complete after the four “last men in” were accounted for.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner became the final addition to the Atlantic Division’s side. David Perron of the St. Louis Blues represents the Central’s last member. Speaking of All-Star Game host St. Louis, it should be a special time for former Blues forward T.J. Oshie. The Washington Capitals forward is the last man in for the Metro. Finally, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes continues his impressive rookie season as the Pacific rep.

Again, it wouldn’t be one bit surprising if Oshie received a warm welcome from Blues fans.

“We all know he wants to go,” Capitals teammate Nicklas Backstrom said of Oshie, via the AP. “Especially it’s his former hometown too, St. Louis. That would be something special for him.”

Fans cast more than 18 million votes, with a maximum of 10 ballots permitted per user. (Somewhere, Rory Fitzpatrick felt a tingle.)

To refresh your memory, the four divisional teams engage in a tournament with three games over two rounds. Defense is even more optional than usual with a 3-on-3 format. St. Louis hosts NHL All-Star Weekend from Jan. 24-25, and you’ll be able to watch the fun on NBCSN.

[Pass or Fail? 2020 NHL All-Star Game jerseys]

Full rosters for 2020 NHL All-Star Game

Check out the full rosters for the four division-based teams. Asterisks denote fan-elected captains.

(Reminder: some players elected to skip the festivities. The NHL found Alex Ovechkin‘s absence especially irritating.)

2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend Rosters

Atlantic Division (All-Star Appearance)

F          *David Pastrnak, BOS (2nd)

G          Tuukka Rask, BOS (2nd)

F          Jack Eichel, BUF (3rd)

F          Tyler Bertuzzi, DET (1st)

F          Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA (1st)

D          Shea Weber, MTL (7th)

F          Anthony Duclair, OTT (1st)

D          Victor Hedman, TBL (2nd)

G          Frederik Andersen, TOR (1st)

F          Mitch Marner, TOR (1st)

F          Auston Matthews, TOR (4th)

Central Division (All-Star Appearance)

F          Patrick Kane, CHI (9th)

F          *Nathan MacKinnon, COL (3rd)

F          Tyler Seguin, DAL (6th)

F          Eric Staal, MIN (6th)

D          Roman Josi, NSH (3rd)

F          Ryan O’Reilly, STL (3rd)

G          Jordan Binnington, STL (1st)

F          David Perron, STL (1st)

D          Alex Pietrangelo, STL (2nd)

G          Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (2nd)

F          Mark Scheifele, WPG (2nd)

Metropolitan Division (All-Star Appearance)

D          Dougie Hamilton, CAR (1st)

D          Seth Jones, CBJ (3rd)

F          Kyle Palmieri, NJD (2nd)

F          Mathew Barzal, NYI (2nd)

F          Artemi Panarin, NYR (1st)

F          Travis Konecny, PHI (1st)

G          Tristan Jarry, PIT (1st)

D          Kris Letang, PIT (6th)

D          John Carlson, WSH (2nd)

G          Braden Holtby, WSH (5th)

F          T.J. Oshie, WSH (1st)

Pacific Division (All-Star Appearance)

G          Darcy Kuemper, ARI (1st)

F          Matthew Tkachuk, CGY (1st)

D          Mark Giordano, CGY (3rd)

F          *Connor McDavid, EDM (4th)

F          Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2nd)

F          Anze Kopitar, LAK (5th)

F          Max Pacioretty, VGK (1st)

F          Tomas Hertl, SJS (1st)

D          Quinn Hughes, VAN (1st)

F          Elias Pettersson, VAN (2nd)

G          Jacob Markstrom, VAN (1st)

*Fan-elected captain

Fans who enjoy complaining about “snubs” can have it now. Enjoy?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals vs. Flyers livestream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Washington defeated the Senators 6-1 last night on home ice to pickup their third consecutive win and remain undefeated in the 2020 calendar year. Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie each tallied two goals and rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced as the Caps erased an early 1-0 deficit to come away with the win. Ovechkin’s second goal, his 26th of the season, was the 684th of his career, tying him with Teemu Selanne for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

The Caps have been pacing the entire league since the beginning of the season. Wednesday will mark the 86th day overall that Washington has led the Metro and will also mark the 67th day overall that the Caps have led the NHL this season.

Philly ended a six-game road trip (1-4-1) Tuesday night at However, things could be turning around in the city of brotherly love as the Flyers will be hosting six of their next seven games beginning Wednesday. Philly has won seven of their last eight games at home (7-1-0) and Wednesday’s game vs. Washington will be their first at the Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 23. The Flyers are 13-2-4 at home this season, while their two regulation losses are tied with Boston for the fewest in the league.

The Flyers ended a six-game road trip Tuesday night with a 5-4 (OT) loss to Carolina. Philly scored the first two goals of the game before giving up the next four. The Flyers rallied to tie the game as Travis Sanheim sent the game to the extra frame with his fifth goal of the season with under five mins to play. Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored in OT to hand Philly their fifth loss of the road trip (1-4-1), but the Flyers earned a much-needed point in the standings as they head back home.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin – Nick BackstromTom Wilson
Jakub VranaEvgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl HagelinLars EllerRichard Panik
Brendan LeipsicNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Michal KempnyJohn Carlson
Dmitry OrlovNick Jensen
Jonas SiegenthalerRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Braden Holtby

FLYERS
Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
James van RiemsdykKevin HayesNicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyler PitlickMichael RafflJakub Voracek
Scott LaughtonMikhail VorobyevJoel Farabee

Ivan ProvorovMatt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim – Philippe Myers
Robert HaggShayne Gostisbehere

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Flyers-Capitals game from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Capitals are kings of the comeback

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Capitals have had a successful first half of the regular season. Through 44 games, they’ve gone 30-9-5, which gives them 65 points and puts them eight points ahead the second-place Islanders. As impressive as their numbers are, they haven’t always made it look easy.

As of right now, Washington leads the NHL in wins after trailing first. Their overall record when falling behind is 13-8-2. Arguably the most of the impressive occurred on Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks. After Logan Couture scored an empty-net goal, the Caps were down 4-2 with exactly one minute left in regulation. Jakub Vrana cut his team’s deficit in half with 47 seconds left and T.J. Oshie tied the game with 15 seconds remaining. In overtime, Lars Eller netted the game-winner for the Capitals.

They became just the eighth team in NHL history to win after trailing by more than one goal in the final minute of regulation. These Caps have that never-say-die attitude.

“I think you have to be willing to still stay in it,” head coach Todd Reirden said after Sunday’s victory. “A lot of teams, they won’t even bother pulling their goalie then. It’s a minute left, whatever; we just gave up an empty-netter. That’s not my philosophy or our philosophy as a team. We’ll take the goal against to never quit in a game.”

They also surrendered the first goal to the Ottawa Senators last night before scoring six unanswered goals.

The Capitals just keep finding a way to get the job done. Not only are most of these players veterans, they also have championship experience with their team. And based on their experience, they probably realize that they’ll face adversity in some way, shape or form on their route to another Stanley Cup Final.

At some point, they’re going to be trailing in a playoff game or in a series. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2018, they were down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They managed to keep the series on the rails by winning Game 3 in double overtime and they went on to win it all.

On the flip side, the Tampa Bay Lightning faced similar adversity in the first round last year. Unlike the Caps, the Bolts crumbled under the pressure of being down. They blew a sizeable lead in Game 1 and were never able to recover.

Of course, this ability to come from behind doesn’t guarantee any kind of success in the postseason, but it gives them a sense of confidence that they can dig themselves out of a hole.

“We don’t ever want to put ourselves in a situation where we have to score late goals like this,” forward Jakub Vrana said on Sunday, per NHL.com. “But at the same [time], it shows character, shows that we’re a strong group here. We never give up and that’s huge points today we grabbed from this game.”

The Caps will get a desperate opponent in Philadelphia tonight. The Flyers are currently tied with the Blue Jackets for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Florida Panthers are just one point behind them. So, it’s a jumbled mess in the standings in the East right now.

But Washington has had their share of success against Philadelphia. They’ve won five straight games over Philly and they’re 9-2-1 dating back to Jan. 2017.

Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Flyers-Capitals game from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Sharks give away crucial point with late meltdown against Capitals

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It is going to take an incredible second half for the San Jose Sharks to play their way back into playoff position. They need wins, and a lot of them. They were in a prime position on Sunday afternoon to pick up one of their most impressive wins of the season and were one minute away from winning their third game in a row by beating one of the league’s best teams in Washington.

Then everything fell apart.

The Sharks gave up two goals in the final 47 seconds of regulation, and then a game-winning goal to Lars Eller two minutes into overtime, to drop a 5-4 decision to the Capitals.

How they got there

Evander Kane had a massive game for the Sharks, scoring three goals for his second hat trick of the season to give the Sharks a 3-2 lead late in the third period.

When Logan Couture scored an empty-net goal with one minute to play in regulation to increase the lead to 4-2 everything seemed to wrapped up for the Sharks. Things quickly unraveled from there.

Off the ensuing face-off the Capitals easily gained entry into the Sharks’ zone and then capitalized on a failed clear when Jakub Vrana scored on a spinning shot from between the circles. That cut the deficit to one.

Just 32 seconds later T.J. Oshie scored the game-tying goal when he found a soft spot in the Sharks’ defense and ripped a one-timer into the back of the net. It was all set up by a slick passing play in the corner by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Here is the game-tying sequence in the closing minute.

Bougher looks for positives

If you’re a Sharks fan and want to look at the bright side of things, they did go on the road and get a point from the best team in the league.

And for 59 minutes they did play really well. That was the message coach Bob Boughner tried to send across in his post-game interview.

“It’s tough to let that one get away, 4-2 with a minute to go. Third period we didn’t allow a lot 5-on-5, defensively we were pretty tight. You can take a million great things out of this game for us, but that’s why they lead the league, why they have the most points because they find ways to win games.

“As disappointed as I am, I am pretty content on the way our 5-on-5 game looks. You get a couple break downs, we don’t get one out on the wall in the 6-on-5. It comes back in our net. We ice one, we can’t get a couple centers out there on the next face-off, and things happen. All of that is forgotten if you score in overtime. We had a post, two-on-one, and a breakaway. That’s the way the game goes. We just have to concentrate on getting a day of rest tomorrow and taking the positives out of this one for the St. Louis game.”

Where they go from here

Bougher’s outlook is surprisingly optimistic given the way that game ended and where the Sharks are in the standings, but he’s also not entirely wrong.

The Sharks did do a lot of good things. There were positives to take out of it. And they have collected at least one point in five of their past six games (eight out of a possible 12). It is not hard to see things trending in a better direction. But still, when you are that far out of a playoff spot with that many teams ahead of you and have a chance to secure that second point you have to get it. You can not allow two goals in the final 60 seconds.

Things do not get any easier from here.

The Sharks’ schedule over the rest of January gets really intense, really fast. Their next 10 opponents include St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Arizona, Vancouver (twice), Columbus, and Tampa Bay. Other than Columbus (who is on an 8-1-4 run), all of those teams are currently in a playoff position and are among the hottest teams in the league.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.