The Calgary Flames may not be much closer to contending for a Stanley Cup, but they’ve quietly taken some very small steps towards improvement this summer. Another step came with the retention of restricted free agent forward Mikael Backlund, who signed a two-year deal.
The Flames and Backlund agreed to that two-year deal, which will pay him $3 million total. It’s a short term deal that will give Backlund an opportunity to prove himself. He’s struggled to stick with the Flames in the last few years, and hasn’t been healthy over that span, but could be a major offensive threat in the middle of this Flames lineup.
When he was in the lineup for the Flames in 2013, Backlund was solid. He finished the year with 16 points, an even split between goals and assists, in 32 games. He was solid in the faceoff circle as well, winning about 48 percent of his draws. His upside makes him a potential building block for this club.
Backlund is a capable centerman at both ends of the ice. He’s solid in his own end, but where he will make his money in the future is on the offensive side of things. He’s one of the faster players on the roster, which is an asset on its own. Combine that with his excellent hands, which make him a strong playmaker, and you have forward with huge potential on your hands.
If Backlund can take the next steps forward in the next couple of years, this deal could pan out to be something of a bargain for the Flames. He’d also set himself up for that next big contract if he can prove himself over these next couple of years. Given what we’ve seen in the last couple of years, in terms of the flashes when he’s healthy, he’s going to be a good one for a franchise in need of building blocks.