Niklas Oskar Bäckström (Swedish: [ˈnɪkːlas ²bɛkːstrœm]; born 13 February 1978) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for Tappara in the Finnish Liiga. He formerly played ten seasons for the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League (NHL), during which he won both the William M. Jennings Trophy and Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award. He also has won both Urpo Ylönen trophy and Jari Kurri trophy twice. Bäckström is a Swedish-speaking Finn, but also speaks Finnish.
13 February 1978|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||197 lb (89 kg; 14 st 1 lb)|
Bäckström won the 1998 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships as a backup goaltender for the Finnish national team, along with players like Olli Jokinen, Niklas Hagman, Mika Noronen, Niko Kapanen, Toni Dahlman and Eero Somervuori. Bäckström was the third goaltender for Finland in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, but did not play any games. In the Finnish SM-liiga, he played for HIFK, SaiPa and Kärpät. Bäckström led Kärpät to two consecutive league titles in 2004 and 2005. Subsequently, Bäckström signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Wild of the NHL on 1 June 2006.
At the beginning of the 2006–07 season, Bäckström was the backup for the Wild's starting goaltender, Manny Fernandez. He made his NHL debut on 7 October 2006, notching his first career win in a 6–5 victory over the Nashville Predators. In his seventh career game, Bäckström continued to impress in recording his first career shutout in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on 24 November 2006. After Fernandez suffered a knee injury mid-season, Bäckström was forced into the starter's position. He played exceptionally well over the second half of the season, finishing first in the NHL in both goals against average (GAA) and save percentage, while tying Dwayne Roloson's team record with 5 shutouts in just 36 starts.
Upon the trade of Fernandez to the Boston Bruins in 2007, Bäckström became Minnesota's starting goaltender. He recorded 33 wins in the 2007–08 season and was the starter for Minnesota's first round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche, which Colorado won in six games.
Though he was due to become an unrestricted free agent on 1 July 2009, Bäckström signed a four-year, $24 million contract on 3 March 2009, to remain with the Wild. Despite Bäckström's 37 wins and strong goaltending, the Wild ultimately did not qualify for the playoffs in 2009. In that season, Bäckström finished as the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top goaltender. In 2012, Bäckström played very well in the first half the season and the Wild had a chance to make the playoffs. However, in the second half of the season, Bäckström slumped and suffered injuries as the Wild failed to make the playoffs.
In the following seasons, Bäckström played on-and-off with the additions of goaltenders Ilya Bryzgalov, Darcy Kuemper and Devan Dubnyk to the Wild. In the 2015–16 season, he was often a healthy scratch as Kuemper dressed as Dubnyk's backup.
Having yet to appear in a competitive game with the Wild in the 2015–16 season, on 29 February 2016, Bäckström was traded to the Calgary Flames (along with a draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft) in exchange for forward David Jones. He appeared in four games for the Flames, recording two wins.
Return to FinlandEdit
On 10 June 2016, Bäckström effectively ended his NHL career after signing, as an impending free agent, a one-year contract with former club HIFK in Finland.
- Most wins: 194
- Most shutouts in a season: 8 (2008–09)
Regular season and playoffsEdit
Bäckström during the 2005 IIHF World Championship
|Men's ice hockey|
|World Junior Championship|
- 1997–98: Gold Medal, World Juniors (U-20) Championship
- 1998–99: Silver Medal, SM-liiga
- 2002–03: Silver Medal, SM-liiga
- 2003–04: All-Star Team, SM-liiga
- 2003–04: Urpo Ylönen trophy (Best Goaltender), SM-liiga
- 2003–04: Jari Kurri trophy (Best Player, Playoffs), SM-liiga
- 2003–04: Kanada-malja trophy (Gold Medal), as a member of Kärpät, SM-liiga
- 2004–05: All-Star Team, SM-liiga
- 2004–05: Urpo Ylönen trophy (Best Goaltender), SM-liiga
- 2004–05: Jari Kurri trophy (Best Player, Playoffs), SM-liiga
- 2004–05: Kanada-malja trophy (Gold Medal), as a member of Kärpät, SM-liiga
- 2005–06: Olympic Silver Medal as a member of Team Finland
- 2005–06: Bronze Medal, SM-liiga
- 2005–06: Bronze Medal, World Championship, as a member of Team Finland
- 2006–07: William M. Jennings Trophy (best goals-against average), as a member of Minnesota Wild (shared with Manny Fernandez), NHL
- 2006–07: Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award (best save percentage), NHL
- 2007–08: Bronze Medal, World Championship
- 2008–09: 2009 NHL All-Star
- 2008–09: Vezina Trophy Finalist, NHL
- 2009–10: Olympic Bronze Medal, as a member of Team Finland
- 2015-16: Silver Medal, World Championship
- 2017–18: Bronze Medal, SM-liiga
- 2018–19: Bronze Medal, SM-liiga
- "Roger Crozier saving grace award". hockeyworldblog.org. 3 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- "Minnesota Wild – Team: Niklas Backstrom Official Player Page". National Hockey League. 2008. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Wild 6, Predators 5". hockeyreference.com. 7 October 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2006.
- "Wild blank Coyotes". hockeyreference.com. 24 November 2006. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
- Wild Signs Goalie Backstrom ESPN, 3 March 2009
- "Wild Acquires David Jones, Trades Niklas Backstrom To Calgary". wild.nhl.com. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "Niklas Backstrom, Juha Aaltonen sign with HIFK" (in Finnish). HIFK. 10 June 2016. Archived from the original on 13 June 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "Niklas Bäckström transferring from HIFK to Tappara" (in Finnish). Liiga.fi. 22 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
- Russo, Mike (1 March 2016). "Niklas Backstrom: 'Being part of the State of Hockey ... is a privilege.'". Star Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Odland, Kristen (24 March 2016). "Calgary Flames goalie Niklas Backstrom looking forward to 'special game' against Minnesota". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Niklas Bäckström.|
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
| Winner of the Urpo Ylönen trophy
| Winner of the Jari Kurri trophy
| Winner of the Jennings Trophy
2007 (with Manny Fernandez)
Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek
| Winner of the Crozier Award