I know that Kent here at FlamesNation and a few others have wondered about the decision to not have Mikael Backlund in the Calgary Flames lineup the last three games, and to instead dress Craig Conroy. It’s an interesting debate, because Backlund is a player who has shown he can be a useful player at this level. But the question is, if the coaching staff isn’t going to use him, should he remain at this level?
As it was explained to me today, there might be a reason for a little reluctance to send Backlund back to Abbotsford. Once the NHL trade deadline passes, a team is granted four recalls from the American Hockey League. Once those recalls have been used, you’re limited to emergency recalls, which are not easy to get apparently. So, the worry would be: send him to Abbotsford because the Flames aren’t using him NOW, then run into injury issues and burn one of the recalls. Perhaps the injury woes from the end of LAST season are still fresh in the minds of management.
I guess I understand the thinking, but at the same time it seems odd. Backlund turns 21 on St. Paddy’s Day (March 17). He’s playing in his first professional season, and has shown great improvement in doing so. Would it not be better to have a guy like that playing meaningful games as opposed to sitting and watching? Sure, you get the practice time, I understand that. But you wonder if it might not be better for a guy like that to be in actual game action.
I’m clearly not a scout or well-versed in player development. I’m going solely on things I’ve read and heard before from people in the hockey world. As such, it seems as if the feeling is game action is important at the transition stage a player like Backlund is in.
To be honest, I don’t have a real problem with Conroy being in the lineup. If that’s what the coaching staff wants to go with, that’s fine. In a lot of ways, you could probably argue Backlund and Conroy are a wash right now. My real wonder is if a guy like Backlund is better suited in the AHL right now as opposed to the NHL.