Mikael Backlund vs Kyle Turris



Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

With the the Kyle Turris rumor floating around, one of the comparisons that keeps coming up is to Calgary’s own Mikael Backlund. In part to judge Turris’ worth on the ice, but also becasue Backlund is one of the assets assumed to be involved in a potential deal.

Neither guy has much time in the NHL, so there isn’t a lot of data to work with. We’ll go off their sophomore seasons from last year.

First up, the counting stats. Turris appeared in 65 games, averaged about 11 minutes per night (1.5 on the PP) and scored 11 goals and 25 points. Backlund appeared in 73 games, averaging about 12 minutes per night (only 0.5 minutes on the PP)  and managed 10 goals and 25 points. Both have ’89 birthdays (22-years old) and were taken in the first round of the 2007 draft. Not a lot to seperate them so far.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

On to the advanced stuff. First we’ll look at Backlund’s relative corsi, zone start and relative quality of competition:


Relative corsi: +15.2 (2nd)

Zone start: 54.3% (3rd easiest)

Relative Qual Comp: -0.168 (3rd easiest)

Backlund faced some of the easier minutes on the team, but managed to put up one of the best possession rates as well. He has mostly been protected his entire time in the big leagues, but has never garnered a negative corsi rate. That’s the first step you look for in developing kids.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Relative corsi: +9.9 (2nd)

Zone start: 66.1% (Easiest)

Relative Qual Comp: -0.673 (Easiest)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Turris’ circumstances were similar, but cushier than Backlund’s. His ZS ratio was a nearly 12% higher and he faced even easier competition. Mikael ventured beyond the fourth line for the Flames now and then, particularly when he skated with Jarome and Tanguay at the end of the season. This data suggests Tippett made sure Turris never saw anything more than the other team’s drones. 

To further compare the two, we can correct their corsi rate for starting position, essentially "zeroing out" the effect of high offensive zone starts (which tend to add about +0.8 corsi per extra faceoff in the offensive end).

Player ES ice corsi rate raw corsi o-zone d-zone ZS differential corr corsi cc/60
Backlund 769 14.89 191 216 182 -34 164 12.77
Turris 634 8.92 94 193 99 -94 19 1.80

Here is where we see Backlund pull away a bit. It looks like a majority of Turris’ positive possession rate came from his extremely high ZS ratio (the 8th highest in the league amongst regular forwards). Backlund, however, still sports a double digit corsi rate even after we take zone starts into account.

This analysis supports my earlier contention that Turris has done next to nothing to prove himself at the NHL level thus far. Last year was the first time he merely held his head above water in the big league, which explains the Coyotes disinterest in signing him to a big ticket as well as the lack of impetus to get him back onto the active roster. There’s potential there because Turris is still young and has a nice pedigree, but that’s about it.

I’ll reiterate that Turris is worth some interest as a trade target, but only if the cost to acquire him is low. His current on-ice value isn’t nothing, but it’s close. The purpose of adding him is to hope he figures things out and takes a few giant steps forward, otherwise he’s basically a replacement level player. Also, any talk of dealing Backlund for him is nonsensical: at best, the Flames are running in place with that kind of deal. At worst, they’re moving the superior player.

  • icedawg_42

    I agree – my only hope is that if there IS serious talk about Turris, that Backlund is NOT on the table. Neimsz on the other hand….I think Turris will probably top out higher than Neimsz

  • Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for posting this. Couldn’t believe all the talk on the radio (in Calgary, no less), that perhaps Backlund for Turris straight up wouldn’t be enough to get him! Blew my mind. Backlund is currently the superior player and I agree with your analysis of this situation 100%.

  • zachg

    All i can say is to trade backlund at this point of his career without even seeing what he is would be very dangerous. Ya turris is 3rd overall, big deal. The only way i would trade backlund would be in a package for a bonafide #1 center. But Turris? The coyotes are trading from a weak position So make them take the crappy end of the deal, if not WALK away!!! Let someone else gamble on him, and he wants 3 mil, so what if cgy makes the trade and they say will we are not gonna pay you 3 mil then he leaves at end of the year then what??? Lose backs for nothing…. no,no,no, take hagman,niemz and a 3rd if not whatever

  • rrg

    With Flames lack of deopth at center Turris would be worth a gamble at the right price which is not Backlund. If he could be had for a Stajan, Hagman or mid level prospect Wahl, Negrin or combo of then go for it. Don’t see Phoenix going for that though.

  • BobB

    Thanks Kent

    I hope Steinberg didnt put you up to this. I was nagging him for it since he was the guy most bearish a Turris trade. He should have had to do the leg work.

  • icedawg_42

    Just cause he was a 3rd overall pick doesn’t mean he should have been drafted 3rd overall. So we shouldn’t pay in a trade what a 3rd overall pick is worth.

    Let’s look at current worth: Backlund, before his injury #1 center, deserved or not he was suppose to be the #1 center. Kyle Turris, 3rd/4th liner…..Maybe higher this year with depth issues, but with Tippet there I doubt it, if he distrusted him that much and offseason won’t do much to change it.

    So all these idiots on the radio thinking this is a good deal are brain dead. Maybe Backlund hasn’t put up the “counting” numbers that people want when he was penciled in as the first line center, but you don’t get those big numbers playing 4th line(3rd line spot duty) and a final call to the 1st at the end of the year. Turris had easier competition, easier starts and barely beat Backlund in counting numbers(PPG). The only way a Backlund for Turris makes sense if WE are the ones getting extra picks back. And that only makes sense if Backlunds contract demands are out to lunch.

  • everton fc

    Agree with the article 100%. And even if Phoenix threw in a pick I still wouldn’t go for it. We’re supposed to be getting younger and more skilled and I don’t see how swapping your best young forward advances the agenda. Even if Turris does reach his potential I wouldn’t regret not making the trade down the road; it’s simply too much risk right now.

  • everton fc

    If we move Backlund for Turris… Without giving Backlund a chance to centre our top line…

    Now Backlund may never score more than 30 pts. We don’t know. But to take a chance on Turris… Over Backlund… Makes no sense.

    I say you try to get Turris for a prospect AND for someone like Stajan. Probably not in the cards, nor on the table… But try to make a move where the Maloney unloads a cancer… for a cancer + prospect.

    If Phoenix is unwilling to make this type of trade… Do we really need Turris? Especially w/Reinhart, Horak and Backlund already in the system??

  • Sounds pretty unamonious! No way, no how, Backlund is going anywhere. Kid has talent & skill. Now Turris in the right environment could be our next future core. But I dont know what Phoenix wants, I dont think anyone in Phoenix knows as they are probably still debating what to do with him, airlift him out or punish him. So what that Turris has said he wanted out, Phoenix management will just say”tell me something I dont know” If I were Phoenix, it doesnt cost them anything to sit him. They will probably wait until Nov/December, see where they sit standings wise & what are their glaring deficiencies & use Turris as part of the solution at that point. If they are doing OK & in the mix, then, maybe a Stajan or Hagman & a 3rd will fit their needs. If they are struggling in the bottom 3rd, they may want better prospect/pick type of package & hope to get a bidding war later in the year. Would anyone give up Byron for Turris. That would be more of a equivalent prospect for prospect deal & Byron might fit Phoenix scenario quite well & personally, I wouldnt be opposed to that deal.

  • No way we trade Backlund for Turris straight up. If they took a package that centered around Stajan then we are talking, except who in their right mind would take Stajan (what’s Glenn Sather’s number?) In my opinion Turris is way overrated. I would maybe trade a 3rd round pick for him.

  • xis10ce

    There is almost no incarnation of a deal regarding Turris that I think I would like. At least one that Tippitt would go for. I mean given the opportunity I would straight across trade Stajan, but I would not be inclined to deal Staj with a prospect or a pick.

    Alexandre Daigle was drafted 1st overall in his year, but that doesn’t make him anything more than an extremely overrated pick. I feel it is the same situation with Turris.

    I wouldn’t part with anything more than a player like Stajan or Hagman for Turris. I’m just hoping Flames management thinks the same.

  • Kent,

    How did you do the adjusted corsi for the zone start? When I run your numbers I get a reduction of .79 in the corsi events per extra o zone start, but I always thought the adjustment was more like .6?

    Regardless, I see no reason why the Flames should give up anything more than whatever the RFA compensation would be on whatever deal they would be willing to pay Turris. Otherwise, both sides can rot.

    • Robert Cleave

      I believe the rule of thumb that we’ve been using is .8 for Corsi and roughly .6 for Fenwick.

      As for the rest of your post, that’s in line with my view of Turris. On an offer sheet from 1.034 to 1.567M, the compensation for RFAs is a third rounder. Between 1.567 and 3.134M, it’s a second round pick. Based on his actual play, that’s about all he’s worth, and in terms of salary, I wouldn’t pay him much past 1.5-1.7M on a two year deal. Even paying him that might be more a gesture of good will than connected to any merit based assessment.

      • SmellOfVictory

        That’s alright in terms of value, but Phx would probably match that in a second. Either way, all I can say is that reading HFBoards makes me increasingly angry when they talk about “Backlund for Turris” or giving up Calgary’s 1st rounder for this draft.

        • Robert Cleave

          Agreed Phoenix would match, although a 3M a year deal might make them choke.

          Of course, putting the Coyotes in a spot via an offer sheet might get you called on the carpet by that team’s, er, ownership. Not that I would ever presume a conflict of interest. /whistles.

  • xis10ce

    Great analysis. I have been arguing similar points elsewhere (under a different handle). Hopefully this enlightens certain people who are seemingly equating Turris’ high draft position as a meaningful indicator of current superiority re:Backlund.

    Backlund started skating again today, but I believe he still needs to have another procedure next week before things can really start moving towards his return. Hopefully his recovery progresses faster than first anticipated and we’ll see him within the next 2-3 weeks.

  • everton fc

    Let’s dream a bit here. What if we could get Maloney to take Stajan and a prospect (Nemisz, whomever) for Turris. Would anyone mind if we looked like this up the middle for the next few years:


    That’s a decent group of centres.

    If a reasonable trade can be made, I say make it. Backlund’s probably not on the table. Backlund may end up another Dustin Boyd – we really don’t know yet, as he hasn’t had the opportunity to get important minutes, offencively speaking. But I’d move Nemisz, and someone else (Stajan/Hagman – what do you do with Hagman once Morrison and Backlund come back?) for Turris.

    Maybe even a pick.

    • jeremywilhelm

      He seems to be off to a great start this year as well, already collecting two or three points in two games. We have no idea what Turris is at this point? Is he gonna live up to the third overall billing? Is he the sheltered kid who is never gonna be able to thrive in the NHL unless he is given Sedin type zone starts? Is he gonna continue the drama queen crap?

      IMO giving up Neimsz is probably already to much for the kid. Maybe a Bouma and a pick? Bouma will be an NHLer, maybe no where near the ceiling of a Turris, but Bouma will be a more servicable 3rd/4th liner than Turris that Tippet can use for more than offensive zone faceoffs.

  • snappingpacco

    I was wondering if there was any truth to the rumors tht Jason spezza could be traded to Calgary, I have no idea wat assests would have to go for tht rumor to be true but is there any truth to tht?

    • Robert Cleave

      I think Hagman or Kosto is the most realisitc, Coyotes are not taking on Stajan money for Turris, they’d just pay Turris if that was the case.

      Hagman is good and off the books at the end of the year, same with Kosto. I think the most realistic is a 2nd round pick to the Coyotes gets it done, but again, we don’t have one……..

      It’s a game of chicken to the deadline, just like the Erixon crap, nothing gets done till the deadline is my best guess.

  • snappingpacco

    Wow you really did your homework on this man! When I started to read this I was excited at the idea and was willing to see the trade, and after well…now I just feel dumb in general.

  • Greg

    In other news, Negrin assigned to the ECHL? Wasn’t he the guy Dutter was so high on he figured he could afford to move Aulie? At one point, d prospects were our only apparent strength, now I’m not sure if we have any d-prospects left outside of Brodie or Breen. Sutter’s draft record is looking worse all the time.

  • RKD

    Well Maloney’s got a player who doesn’t want to play for the Coyotes. At the same time, Maloney might not trade him because sources say he’s not going to be held hostage by Turris.

    Hard to tell if he would be a good fit on the Flames. Sure he is young like Backlund, but technically Backlund like Turris, is unproven as well.

    Hard to tell how Backlund shapes up this season, how he comes back from the broken pinky, who is linemates are and how much ice time he will get.

    Once he and Morrison come back, Moss probably goes down to line two with GlenX and Joker. I like Joker with Hags. I also liked Moss centering Iggy with Tangs. If Morrison goes to the 3rd line, hopefully he can ignite Stempniak, it’s still early.


    That leaves Horak, and Kostopolous as the odd men out. Horak probably goes back to the minors.

  • Captain Ron

    I say DO NOT trade Mikael Backlund at this stage in his career with the Flames. I think his upside is at least as good as Turris and maybe better. He is just starting to show signs of as a productive 2 way center and is growing up in our system. Trading Backlund for Turris would be a Sutter riverboat gambler deal. We’ve been there and done that. Any deal for Turris has to be made with us coming out as the clear winner in the trade. I really believe Backlund will show significant improvement with us this year, and even more next year.