As much flak as the Calgary Flames get, mostly thanks to the questionable moves of their general manager Jay Feaster, this team wasn’t as bad as many expected them to be in 2013. After all, they managed to finish outside of the cellar in the Western Conference. That has to be a positive right?
There are a few players that could be considered positives for the Flames, with their 2013 season now in the books. There were some youngsters that performed well, along with their big free agent acquisitions. This team deserves a lot of credit overall for still managing to put out an effort every night, especially after Jarome Iginla was traded.
One of the biggest positives for the Flames, in terms of players on their roster, was Mikael Backlund. While he only managed to appear in 32 games, including just three in Feburary, because of a variety of injuries, Backlund proved that he is a building block for this franchise.
If Backlund was able to play a full season, meaning all 48 games in this lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, he likely could have finished with a new career high both in points and in goals.
In 32 games, Backlund posted 16 points, with an even split between goals and assists. He won a pretty solid 48 percent of his draws on the year and finished with a minus-6 rating, which isn’t the worst thing in the world when you consider the team that he plays for. His solid play for the year goes beyond the stat sheet, though.
Backlund consistently played against the toughest competition and posted the best Corsi on the team. He averaged about 13 minutes per game when he was able to get in the lineup.
Heading into the summer, Backlund is a restricted free agent. The Flames are in no financial trouble whatsoever, meaning that it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll be back next season. With a full summer to recover and get completely healthy, he could be in for a breakout 2013-14 campaign.