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As reported yesterday morning by Washington Post Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir, the Washington Capitals have agreed to terms with Nicklas Backstrom, the Swedish center the team picked 4th overall in the 2006 NHL draft.
According to El-Bashir, “Backstrom is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday to sign the paperwork,” and the contract is “a bonus laden deal that could be worth as much as $4 million a year, much like Ovechkin’s deal.”
That’s good news for fans of the struggling Capitals, who are in dire need of a Top 6 playmaking center for Russian wingers Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Assuming that the 6-foot, 183-pound 19-year-old—-who led his Swedish Elite League club in points and assists this season—-can quickly adapt his game to the NHL, the acquisition is one pressing matter that general manager George McPhee can scratch off his off-season to-do list. Of course, signing Backstrom doesn’t address the team’s other glaring needs, such as a top-line veteran center, a scoring right winger, or a top-pairing veteran defenseman to lead an all-too-green blueline corps—-but those deals probably won’t be made until after the Stanley Cup has been awarded. In the meantime, Caps fans can rejoice in the Buffalo Sabres’ imminent exit from the postseason (courtesy of the Ottawa Senators), continue to speculate over which of Buffalo’s top two centers, co-captains, and soon-to-be-unrestricted-free agents (clutch-goal-scorer Chris Drury and cheap-shot pantywaist Daniel Briere) will be the one to pack his bags once the team’s run is over, and how wonderful either of them would look in one of the Caps’ new red-white-and-blue jerseys next season.