It’s been something of a rocky start to his (North American) pro career for the Flames top prospect this year. His early returns with the Abbotsford Heat were unimpressive, lagging behind the likes of Jamie Lundmark, Jason Jaffray, Kris Chucko and David Van der Gulik.
However, there were some indications that Backlund was actually performing pretty well, despite the lackluster point totals. He was amongst the top 10 shooters (in terms of generating shots on net) in the AHL prior to his call-up to the Flames, which is no mean feat for a 21 year old rookie. During his recent cup of coffee with the big squad, Backlund managed to hold his own at even strength at both ends of the ice. While he was hadly dominant, the kid was able to keep his head above water rather convincingly, which was a marked step forward compared to his previous forays at the NHL level.
Reports from the Heat recently are also positive. Apparently during his first appearance for the farm team, Backlund was dominant, scoring two goals, firing 8 shots and finishing +2 on the evening. This, despite skating on a line with Brett Sutter (checking forward) and Evan Barlow (who?). Those are the kind of results that are far more in-line with expectations I’d say.
There’s a good chance that Backlund will find himself back on the big team once play resumes, but here’s hoping he continues to knock the ball out for Abbotsford in the mean time.