Top 10 Americans To Watch in 2011-2012

USA Hockey Magazine is counting down the top 10 Americans to watch in 2011-2012. In no particular order, this list features players and personnel from all different levels.

4. David Backes, St. Louis Blues

Backes lays a big hit on a Norway player during the 2010 Winter Olympics

HEIGHT: 6-3

WEIGHT: 225

BORN: May 1, 1984

HOMETOWN: Spring Lake Park, Minnesota

LAST SEASON: Tallied 31 goals, 31 assists for 62 points in 82 games for the St. Louis Blues. Led all NHL forwards with a plus-32 rating.

Sept. 29 Ryan Callahan
Oct. 1
Tyler Biggs
Oct. 2
Dean Blais
Oct. 3
Seth Jones
Oct. 4
Knight, Decker
Oct. 5
Ron Wilson
Oct. 6
David Backes
Oct. 7
Rocco Grimaldi
Oct. 8
Zach Parise
Oct. 9
?

David Backes is a guy you want on your team, plain and simple. He does it all.

The 2010 Silver Medal Olympian can score, assist, hit, fight and cover his rear-end in the defensive zone. Perhaps one of the most overlooked stats from the 2010-2011 NHL season: Backes led all forwards with a plus-32 rating.

Let me say it again: A plus-32 rating … on the Western Conference’s 11th-place team. The Blues didn’t make the playoffs – they weren’t even close, really – but Backes grinded out all 82 games posting impressive numbers in all aspects of the stat sheet. He posted a career-high 62 points and earned his first-ever NHL All-Star selection.

He was rewarded for his hard work.

In early August, Backes was named the 20th captain in St. Louis Blues history. Quite an achievement for the former Minnesota St.-Mankato standout.

Here’s what Backes told Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"What a great honor and challenge to face, especially in our division," Backes said. "You look at Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit's captain), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Shea Weber (Nashville), Rick Nash (Columbus) . . . guys that are all world-class players. To be seen in the same light as them, and to lead my troops against their troops, what a great challenge, what a great opportunity. Not only to play against them, but to get the better of them on a regular basis.

"There's no promises as far as victories, but the effort, dedication and will that our team is going to show is going to be second to none."

Backes shows up to play. We’ve seen it in both the Olympics and the NHL. If the Blues make a playoff run this year, it will be on his back.

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