Despite a pre-mature exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the future of the Washington Capitals looks a little brighter today thanks to the long-term presence of star center Nicklas Backstrom, who on Monday signed a 10-year contract extension.

Backstrom was due to become a restricted free agent July 1. Now he joins a list of core players locked up for the next few seasons. Alex Ovechkin is signed through 2020-21, defenseman Mike Green has two more seasons before he reaches restricted free agency, and forwards Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich, defenseman Karl Alzner, and goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth have one more year remaining on their deals.

In all, the Caps now have 14 players under contract for 2010-11, including Mike Knuble, Jason Chimera, Tom Poti, Matt Bradley, Dave Steckel, John Erskine and Tyler Sloan.

Backstrom, the fourth pick of the 2006 Entry Draft, set career highs with 33 goals and 101 points this season. He also had 5 goals and 9 points in the Caps' seven-game first-round playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Backstrom has increased his goal, assist and point totals each of the last three seasons, and he's never missed a regular-season game.

Backstrom scored 33 goals and 101 points this past season. In three seasons he has increased his goals, assists and points each season without missing a game.

Contact Rocky Bonanno at rbonanno@nhl.com