Random Thoughts – More MIkael Backlund



With Darren Dreger recently tweeting that the Flames are shopping Backlund, it seems more and more that the former first rounders time with the organization is drawing to a close. We’ve defended backs around here a lot over the years, so this is going to seem redundant, but here’s a bit on why moving him for pennies on the dollar is a bad bet.

It’s been well established around these parts – Mikael Backlund is a top-5 player on this team in terms of driving possession. He led the Calgary Flames forwards by that metric over the last two years and is top-3 amongst regular forwards this year (despite starting from the defensive end more often). He’s not an overly compelling player in general because he doesn’t regularly do the spectacular stuff – he doesn’t fight or smash people into the boards and his offense is uneven at best. All he does is drive play into the offensive end.

An apt comparison might be baseball player Scott Hatteberg from the Oakland A’s (featured in Moneyball). Billy Beane signed Hatteberg off the scrap heap because he was good at getting on base – an unsexy metric (at the time) that correlated to runs and wins.

Because OBP was unsexy it was also cheap. Corsi and other possession metrics are the same in hockey today – over the long run, a higher corsi rating correlates with a better goal differential and wins, but in the short term it’s something that can be overwhelmed by the osscilations of fortune. The best teams in the league tend to consistently control the puck and spend more time in the offensive zone, meaning they aren’t overly reliant on all world goaltending or a high shooting percentage. Ergo, to eventually become a good team, the club should collect and keep as many possession players as possible.

Backlund, at 24 years old, does things that help teams win over the long-term. He’s not elite, so he can’t turn the boat around by himself, and his offense is underwhelming relative to his skill set. Unfortunately, that often means people focus on what Backlund isn’t rather than what he is – a useful, cheap, middle-tier forward who drives play in almost any circumstance.

– Another problem with trading Backlund now is the org is unlikely to get much in return for him. Because he doesn’t have good counting numbers and there are now questions about his viability as an NHLer, Calgary will be lucky to do better than a second round pick or middling prospect in return. It’s the kind of move the Oilers made in the early stages of their rebuild (see: Kyle Brodziak). Giving away established 24-year old centerman out of frustration or because he isn’t an bovious star is a good way to spin your wheels.

– It looks like to me that the decision makers have decided they’d rather bet on Colborne than Backlund moving forward, which results in the log-jam and "need" to move Mickis.

I liked the Colborne acquisition and I’m hoping he becomes something for the team, but aside from his size, there’s no reason currently to believe Colborne will be better the Backlund. His possession rates this year are worse (even though he starts way more often in the offensive zone), his even strength shot rate is worse and he has just as many points in the same number of games as Backlund. It might be tempting to give Colborne the benefit of the doubt given his age, but the fact is he’s just 10 months younger than Mikael, but has played about 160 less NHL games.

It’s possible Colborne will become a useful NHLer, but it’s also possible he’s a replacement level plug. If any center on this club should be getting the ambivalent "up-and-down the line-up treatment" it’s Joe Colborne, not Backlund – the former hasn’t proven anything at this level yet and doesn’t have any compelling results under his belt as a Flame, be it conventional stats or "advanced" metrics.

– Related: one of the many reasons I am against the frequent deployment of enforcers is their presence neuters an entire forward unit each night. Or, to put it another way, if the club had two functional bottom six combinations, it’s doubtful anyone would talk about having to choose Colborne over Backlund or vice versa.

Because a line featuring a tough guy can only see 5-7 minutes of ice time per night (and usually they are very unproductive minutes, because it is essentially like skating short-handed), everyone else on that trio is rendered ineffective. For example, in an alternate universe, the Flames could skate these two units:

  • Bouma – Backlund – D. Jones
  • Galiardi – Colborne – B. Jones

Or some mix of players therein. Instead, the team chooses to go with a functional third line and then a usless fourth unit because the two other guys have to carry around Brian McGrattan. An enforcer-less bottom-six would mitigate any questions about keeping Backlund or playing him versus Colborne because each guy would still have a fighting chance to be useful in this configuration no matter how you jumbled things.

Instead, the club is may trade Backlund for a nominal return essentially so they can gamble on Joe Colborne and play McGrattan every game.

  • Colin.S

    Oh Kent you’ve done it now, suggesting that MacGratton be sat, but then who will angrily stare at our opponents and put some fear into them that stops them from taking cheap shots at our actual good players???

  • My, uh, “interpretation” of the decision-making process is that Backlund’s 24 (turning 25 mid-season) and the team probably feels like they know what he’s like at the NHL level. Outside of the strong possession numbers, he can’t score and he gets a fairly major injury every year.

    Plus, they need to move a center so Markus Granlund or Corban Knight can get a chance to play in Calgary.

    • Colin.S

      I really hope the last line is sarcasm, because if that is truly the Flames thinking they need to move a center to bring either one of those guys up, I don’t even know where to begin.

      I know the trade deadline is a while away yet, especially being an Olympic year and all, but with Stajan, Stempniak and Camms all likely being moved out, moving Backlund early in the season, so that Knight or Granlund can play earlier all but ensures we never win another game after the trade deadline. Saddly enough that’s probably the best reason to keep Backlund around instead of trading him now, is that come trade deadline he’ll be one of the older/more experienced forwards on the team. Trade him in the offseason, I think he’ll still be an RFA I believe so he’ll still have some value.

    • piscera.infada

      How dare you not spout platitudes about a guy who could/would/should/may be a mediocre second line centre.

      @Kent Wilson

      [Colborne]…doesn’t have any compelling results under his belt as a Flame

      What “compelling results” does Backlund have under his belt? The ability to lead an old-tired-slumping team in possession the last few years? I’m willing to grant that it’s more than Colborne has, but not substantially more – he hasn’t helped this team win, he hasn’t helped them in any sort of playoff push, and he hasn’t generally been a go-to difference maker (not that he needs to be, but I’m unsure why he’s thusly deemed an untouchable in that regard).

      I’m really not trying to pile on a player that I really like, and I will be the first to agree that his deployment has been a head-scratcher. That said, I really can’t justify the absolutism with which trading that particular player is deemed a “mistake” before we see what kind of a package is actually put together. It’s only a mistake insofar as the return in horrible (ie: Backlund straight-up for a pick). I really don’t believe the higher-ups are ready to just throw the poor guy away for peanuts.

      • piscera.infada

        He may not have “compelling results” but it’s one more piece. Everyone knocks the Oilers for their rebuild, but we want to toss a 24 year old centre who puts the puck in the other team’s zone.

        I agree with you in theory, but I still maintain that Backlund has more value plaing for the team than as a trade asset. That’s where the absolutism comes from. Because it seems like a trade the Flames would be destined to lose.

        • piscera.infada

          The ‘compelling results’ claim wasn’t made by me. It was simply posited that Backlund does have compelling results. I’m asking what those are.

          While I agree with you, he does have more value playing for the team then he does in a one-off trade. But it seems to me the absolutism is only warranted if the line from management was “we’re trading Backlund for whatever we can get – regardless of return, it’s happening”. I Haven’t heard that, so to assume that he’s going to be traded for nothing is capricious.

          I don’t have a four year timeline – I for one, don’t think a hard timeline on a rebuild does anything positive at all for anyone. I’m just saying you have to be open when teams are kicking tires. Again, I don’t want to trade Backlund – I want everyone to sit down to a nice Christmas dinner, and their kids can be lifelong friends so they all grow old together thusly being buried beside each other along the Bow River.

          Seriously though, I actually really don’t think we’re that far off in opinion. I just don’t see it as definitively horrible asset management until I can see the return.

          • Gange

            “The ‘compelling results’ claim wasn’t made by me. It was simply posited that Backlund does have compelling results. I’m asking what those are.”

            I realize that wasn’t you and was agreeing with you that he doesn’t per se, but…….

            Agree about a hard time line, just trying to point out that Backlund is of that age group where he’ll still be highly useful at the end of it. Feaster was just saying again the other week about how the team lacks guys in that age range which makes the whole rumor a little strange from that POV.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Trading Backlund is likely a mistake because players of his type tend not to be considered particularly valuable on the trade market, but are very valuable to team success. The trade market tends to value scoring, physicality, and other things that look impressive and Backlund doesn’t really have in spades.

        His compelling results are simply that he is actually a high-functioning support player on a team that doesn’t exactly have a glut of them.

          • SmellOfVictory

            He was more effective than Nugent-Hopkins at even strength in the spring. I haven’t watched RNH this season, though.

            I’ve never had delusions of Backlund being a top line offensive centre, but the fact of the matter is that he had five years’ development on a kid who was barely a year removed from his draft.

        • piscera.infada

          Look, if you and anyone else want to get bent out of shape that trades are being discussed, then do it. I’m just trying to add some sober thought to the hysterical masses who are lining up to jump off the Calgary tower because the Flames are taking some calls on the guy.

          Where I differ from most of the people espousing the “worst idea ever” argument, is that I don’t believe that the Flames are dumb enough to trade Backlund unless the return is going to be more than decent (whether that’s a pipe-dream or not). There’s no issue in taking calls – absolutely none. If you’re assuming they’re going to trade Backlund for a bag of pucks and large double-double because that fits your expectation that management is incompetent, then that’s your prerogative – and unfortunately for you, this isn’t the first time you’ll be driven to hemorrhoids by the rebuild.

          • SmellOfVictory

            I’m not getting bent out of shape; I’m just saying it’s probably a bad idea. It’s highly unlikely that the return they would get for Backlund is as valuable to the team as Backlund generally is (when he’s not relegated to 8 min/night on the 4th line).

            If they do get a good value return for him, then great. Although I’ll be a bit choked that one of my favourite Flames is gone.

          • piscera.infada

            If they do get a good value return for him, then great. Although I’ll be a bit choked that one of my favourite Flames is gone.

            For sure, I’ll be hitting the Martell hard if that day comes.

          • SmellOfVictory

            I don’t think anyone’s getting bent out oh shape. Listen to offers, sure, but ghe Flames r dealing from a position of weakness, as Backlund isn’t a sell high asset right now.

          • prendrefeu

            ??????? I’m totally confused with your last statement about us dealing with a position of weakness. Oh contraire! 30 mill of cap space, almost mathematically eliminated from playoffs already, 1st year of declared rebuild, I think we are in the drivers seat with dealing with most teams in the league.

          • This is a huge assumption. I would bet a lot that Backlund is not worth a 1st rounder by most GM standards and a second or third is not worth it. Any current player you trade him for is not likely to have the same 2 way skills.

            I hope you are right but I just don’t see equal or better value happening. 95% sure that if we trade him right now, we lose the trade.

          • I hear you and don’t think a good return is impossible but I have serious doubts. Wasn’t that example of Gaustad at the deadline? In general, IIRC, teams will pay more at that time though I could be wrong.


    Also the fact that there is no guarantee that Stajan resigns. Monahan is also only a 19 year old rookie and expecting him to be able to compete competently against other teams top lines shouldn’t be expected for at the very least 2-3 years. Backlund is the perfect safety blanket to hold on to until potential guys like Knight, Monahan, Arnold, Granlund, etc can develope into NHLers without being thrown to the wolves against a brutal conference and division. Trading him makes zero sense to me until you have at least 2 bonafide NHL centres that are signed for a significant amount of time.


    Also the fact that there is no guarantee that Stajan resigns. Monahan is also only a 19 year old rookie and expecting him to be able to compete competently against other teams top lines shouldn’t be expected for at the very least 2-3 years. Backlund is the perfect safety blanket to hold on to until potential guys like Knight, Monahan, Arnold, Granlund, etc can develope into NHLers without being thrown to the wolves against a brutal conference and division. Trading him makes zero sense to me until you have at least 2 bonafide NHL centres that are signed for a significant amount of time.


    Also the fact that there is no guarantee that Stajan resigns. Monahan is also only a 19 year old rookie and expecting him to be able to compete competently against other teams top lines shouldn’t be expected for at the very least 2-3 years. Backlund is the perfect safety blanket to hold on to until potential guys like Knight, Monahan, Arnold, Granlund, etc can develope into NHLers without being thrown to the wolves against a brutal conference and division. Trading him makes zero sense to me until you have at least 2 bonafide NHL centres that are signed for a significant amount of time.


    Also the fact that there is no guarantee that Stajan resigns. Monahan is also only a 19 year old rookie and expecting him to be able to compete competently against other teams top lines shouldn’t be expected for at the very least 2-3 years. Backlund is the perfect safety blanket to hold on to until potential guys like Knight, Monahan, Arnold, Granlund, etc can develope into NHLers without being thrown to the wolves against a brutal conference and division. Trading him makes zero sense to me until you have at least 2 bonafide NHL centres that are signed for a significant amount of time.

  • Lordmork

    From the way they’ve played Backlund this year, it seems clear the organization doesn’t value what he does and expects more out of him. That’s fine, except that what he does is quite important, and the team doesn’t seem to be willing to give him then necessary conditions to allow him to succeed.

    If “all” Backlund is is a defensive third-line centre with good possession rates, then he still has value for the organization and I’m not sure why A) he’s been buried on the fourth line, and B) the team is playing Colborne so much more. And if the team doesn’t see the value of Backlund, and prefers Colborne despite that he’s a demonstrably worse at possession, then it gives me no confidence that this team has any idea about what wins hockey games, and prefers size and “grit.”

    I think this is why this rebuild has been frustrating in a lot of ways. Exactly what is the team is rebuilding towards?

  • Graham

    I suspect that their to the more to the Backlund story than meets the eye. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that when negotiating the last two contracts, the Flames and Backlund are miles apart in the role that they see him playing. For the Flames, he is seen as a bottom six defensive center with limited scoring (thus a limited salary) , while Backlund believes that he is at least a second line two way forward, with first line upside. The team and player are simply miles apart, and you have to wonder how much bad blood has developed. I don’t suspect that Backlund with the way he is being deployed. (largely fourth line duty)

    I don’t believe that he is a top six forward (lack of scoring), but he clearly adds value to the bottom six. I would only move him if you can bring back a similar type of player who would also benefit from a change in scenery. (a swap of like for like)

  • T&A4Flames

    First paragraph moves from shopping him to getting pennies on the dollar.

    Yeah, we really need an argument for why we shouldn’t make a trade for pennies on the dollar.

    • The transition between shopping him and pennies on the the dollar is that Backlund doesn’t do the “spectacular stuff,” but that what he’s good at wins hockey games and is under valued. You imply there’s a non sequitur but there isn’t.

  • T&A4Flames

    Kent, I like your bottom 6 configuration. Play those lines and if aparticular line is going, move them up ice time wise.

    I suspect this is more of other teams inquiring given Backs perceived struggles with the coach and CGY is listening. Why not see what potential value is out there. He could be an important piece in a salary dump trade that nets us a bigger return.

    I just hope that the management hasn’t given up on Backlund and are ok dumping him for peanuts just zo they can bring up another prospect.

  • Question: if you’re resigned to the fact they’ll prob just get a 3rd for Backlund, would you rather trade him for a player that may be overpaid/underperforming in his current situation, that has 1 more yr left on their deal?

    2 guys off the top of my head: Tomas Fleishmann & Martin Erat.

    The thinking being: they only have 1 yr left, so they’re not a big hindrance to the long term payroll (something that searching the UFA market might be). With Cammalleri gone next yr, and the Flames already near the bottom in payroll, they’re gonna need to spend $ on somebody for next yr. Signing a UFA to an inflated contract with term probably isn’t in their best interest at this time. Adding a player that may be overpaid but just has 1 yr left on his contract for pennies on the dollar might be the smart play (regardless of whether Backlund is involved). Then, at next yrs deadline, you could likely salvage a pick for said player anyways.


  • @Colin.S @Ryan Pike

    Exactly – The flames have said plenty of times that an abundance of decisions is not a concern for them. So if it becomes an issue of suddenly there’s ‘too much depth’ at one position and you don’t have a place for your prospects on the big team then it’s a good thing. But, if they’re truly moving Backlund because of that alone then once again management are a bunch of bonafide pandering BS’ers. They lie to fans saying one thing then do exactly what they say they aren’t going to do. They keep saying that they’re not going to trade away the future and yet now Backlund is the first on the list to be moved? Not say Glencross or Stajan?

    In my opinion. If the Flames are in need of making a place for Knight and Granlund then the option should be to trade Stajan. When Stajan is on he’s a good 2 way centre but when he’s off he’s an awful centre at best. And unfortunately Matt Stajan is off more than he is on and has been his whole career.

    And if trading the soon to be 25 year old when you’ve notably said you lack players in that age category during a rebuild is the solution then this management is clearly not the ones to be in charge of a rebuild.

  • Also, I fully expect the Flames to enter next season with an Oilers rebuild style center depth chart:

    Stajan (Horcoff), Monahan, Colborne, Knight

    And while that’s seemingly a terrible idea, I fully support it because… CONNOR McJESUS.

    • Colin.S

      We are pretty well garaunteed to be in the mix for that kid. Nothing I have seen this year leads me to believe that we will be significantly better next year. Especially without replacements for Stempniak, Stajan, Camm at the ready. And Stajan isn’t coming back next year. It’s going to be Monahan, Colborne, Granlund and Knight as our centers.

      • thymebalm

        Not to mention the fact that many commenters here on FN don’t want the Flames to have a “losing attitude” like the Oilers, cause it’s obviously toxic to a rebuild. If you trade Backlund right now and bring up Granlund, who may or may not be ready (this is his first year playing in NA), and eventually deal Stajan for picks/prospects, the team is gonna be VERY green down the middle.





        That’s the setup, unless I’m mistaken. You might get a center prospect for Stajan/Cammaleri/Backlund, etc, or the Flames may move a more experienced guy like Hudler to the middle, but if they don’t…

        Very young at center, all kids forced into roles that you DO NOT 100% KNOW that they are ready for… Sounds like CGY could lose alot of games for the rest of the year and next year, which may = a losing attitude

  • @Kent
    Agree with your bottom 6 completely.
    I’ve also said all along that Hartley needs to balance the lines out better. Right now he’s trying play one line of vets one line of rookies, everyone else in the bottom 6 and it’s not working very well.

    You like the moneyball analogy so let’s stick with that. I’ve been saying if you can’t turn the individual players into the type of player you want then re-create the skill sets you want in the aggregate of the line combos.

    They keep complaining that Sven is not defensively responsible enough and that Backlund is not scoring enough. So here’s a totally revolutionary idea for Hartley. Put Backlund between Svensation and Cammalleri (One veteran presence shoot first type, one defensive minded possession driven centre and a skilled player who can dangle and pass & doesn’t have to worry about getting back as much because Cammy and Backlund will cover it).

    Second line: Stempniak – Monahan – Hudler (this line had great chemistry until Stemps got hurt and Hartley started to shuffle)
    Third Line: Galliardi – Stajan – B. Jones
    Fourth line Bouma – Colborne – D. Jones.

    4 lines that are relatively balanced well with speed, size, veteran presence and youth. Some guys that can put pucks in the net. Some guys that can defend safely.

  • MonsterPod

    Backs has just been cursed with bad timing here in Calgary. His rookie start was hampered by the Sutters & when he started to make progress he usually got injuries that slowed his start that one year & shelved him while he was going great another year. So now he hasn’t proven that he is a top 6 but more of a 3rd line centreman. Unfortunately we just started our rebuild & we have 3-4 young guys that we need to give those 3rd line minutes to so we can find out what they have. Reinhart, Knight, Colbourne, Granlund all have the potential to slot in there & perform as well as Backlund. I do believe we have run out of Bridge contract for Backs & his value is better as a RFA than a UFA. Seems silly to just sell him straight up when his value straight up is so low. However combine is potential, his good Corsi, his cheap contract with the huge cap space we have available & then suddenly if he were a piece of a larger deal, the value improves.

    One thing I would like to see & I read someone mentioning it before was during the lockout he played wing with Berglund & was awesome, brought out his offense & gave him confidence that carried over last season. Can we not try him there & at least pump up some numbers to pump up his value?

  • RexLibris

    I mentioned the Backlund-Brodziak thing in the last thread and to revisit it here I’ll go to an area of concern for the Oilers these past few years: center depth.

    After moving Brodziak for the proverbial “magic beans” (a term I despise in this instance) of a 4th and 5th round pick, the Oilers have used Ryan Smyth, Chris Vande Velde, Anton Lander (several times), Jerrod Smithson, Eric Belanger, Boyd Gordon, Mark Arcobello and Will Acton to fill that spot. Tell me if I’m missing anyone.

    Gordon is a 3rd line center, Acton is barely a 4th liner and Arcobello looks (and returns are early) like a potential 3rd or even 2nd liner with strong linemates.

    That still leaves four players and an unready prospect that have been used in that spot over the last four years.

    My point is that the Flames don’t have center depth, they have a logjam of middling depth center players. Trading Backlund to roll the dice on Colborne, Knight and Granlund is beyond asinine. It is gross misuse of assets and extremely risky management.

    If Burke wants to become the next Flames GM then all he has to do is let Feaster make that trade (for presumably rebuilding assets like he has targeted in his Iginla and Bouwmeester trades, ie: Cundari, Hanowski, etc) then wait for the fallout.

    If we assume that the Flames are able to rebuild their roster within the next four years by adding high-end talent, then at that time they are very likely to begin casting about for exactly the type of player that Backlund is and will be, a veteran depth possession center who can play a shutdown role and not look out of sorts on a skill line.

    • piscera.infada

      Rex – I agree with you about trading Backs being a misuse of assets and risky to hope that some AHLer fills his shoes. Sounds exactly like what the Oilers have been doing for 5 years.

      BUT – my the question ties back to an issue I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. The whole timing thing… I think we can agree the Oilers screwed up by having too many young skill prospects at the same time without a supporting cast of vets. But how does a team manage that, so that when Sven/Monahan & this years 1st overall (fingers crossed) all start to enter their prime.

      I guess, my point is… It makes sense to keep Backs around, because one day we will need him. But my gut tells me we aren’t going to be competitive for 4 years. Playoffs 2017. Is that reasonable? So given those timelines how do you handle a Backlund type?? Is he worth keeping around for the development phase? Or is he just the guy we need back in 2017?? Or is that what the Oilers tried to do… Wait until they need a Backlund type and then get them (easier said than done)….

      I just can’t wrap my mind around how all this timing needs to work…. Because its easy to say we need a 3rd line C line Backs one day. But when is that one day. And will he still be relevant at that point?

      • piscera.infada

        I fully agree with you on all points. The timing thing is precisely why you can’t be absolutist about anything this early into the rebuild – it’s all return based.

        • piscera.infada

          See, and I say, using your 4 year time line, that it makes perfect sense to keep him. By then he’s 29 or 30 and is contuing to be a possession juggernaut for a few playoff runs. That’s perfect.

          • thymebalm

            You could be right… My original comment was basically a big question. I’m wondering out loud if you keep guys like Backs on a 4-5 year window or if you try to find a different ‘Backlund” in 3-4 years when you need them….

            Its easy to look up north and see what they screwed up. But I don’t know the answer. I wonder what the Hawks did. Did they keep their depth 3-4 liners around through the dark days of Toews early career and then use those same guys to win the cups now? Or is their bottom 6 completely replaced from the guys they had at ground zero?? I’m honestly asking (and hoping someone has more time than me to look it up!)

      • T&A4Flames

        Bottom line, if you want a job at the NHL level, you need fo beat out a vet or someone that already has that job. Otherwise you get sent back down to try to develop to a point where you are the better option.

        Just because Knight, Granlund and to some extent Reinhart, are ripping it up in the AHL, doesn’t mean they’re ready for full time NHL duty.

      • RexLibris

        The timing is tough. You can’t plan that, but the best you can do is put value on those around you and sign them to long term deals, even if it is an overpay at the time.

        Backlund at around $3 million for five years would’ve been a good deal because by year 4 the cap is probably high enough that it meshes with his point production and his presence then becomes valuable.

        The Oilers get ripped for sending off all their veterans, yet they have hung on to Ales Hemsky, albeit sometimes in spite of themselves, for years because they feel he has more value on the roster than what was offered in exchange.

        Identify the core, place a relative value on each, and then move forward. Backlund, Brodie, Baertschi and Monahan are the NHL building blocks for the Flames. Aside from Monahan, nobody is untouchable, but they ought to rank higher than the remainder of the roster.

  • Nick24

    I don’t know. I’ve always thought that if Backlund were put in a positions to to succeed, he could be a second line player. He’s got pretty good hands and decent enough play-making ability. He had a good enough scoring rate last year to at least give some hope (however small) the notion he could produce in a top six capacity if he was employed as such.

    I’ve always liked Backlund, and if nothing else, he is the very good defensive centre that the Flames want Joe Colborne to turn into.

    • EugeneV

      But he is still puny as defined by Merriam-Webster

      Full Definition of PUNY

      : slight or inferior in power, size, or importance : weak

      If he can’t fill a top 6 scoring role, then he needs to go because he won’t be that centerman you throw out in the last minute. Too puny.

      Not all players with size and grit are “face punchers” as some of you like to call them, but most “slight” (see above) players like Backlund can only fill one role and a team in todays NHL can only carry so many “slight” players.

  • Feaster said months ago that the Flames were going to be a team going forward that was “hard to play against”

    He more or less went on to explain that he meant the team would be bigger and grittier, which he didn’t need to do: we already knew what he meant.

    The irony there is that a team is actually harder to play against when you can’t take the puck away from them, and the Flames have a strong possession guy they’re just ready to throw the towel in on, because he’s been buried with the guys that are there to be “harder to play against”.

    One man’s trash, right?

  • I’ll be more surprised if Stajan & Stempniak aren’t re-signed than if they are. You need to have some vets on the team, and as I said – the Flames are gonna NEED to spend some money just to reach the floor.I think they’ll move Cammalleri, Backlund & Butler. And I’d bet Stajan AND Stempniak both get something like $10-11M over 3 years with Limited NTC’s.

    • Colin.S

      That’s assuming both players actually want to stay here, IMO, to keep them here you are looking at deals very similar to what Huddler got. 4 years with cap hits in the 3.5M – 4M range, if not higher. The teams done nothing but go downhill the last few years, as well Stajan has been a giant whipping boy as well, I just don’t see his appetite in staying here unless he’s grossly overpaid.

      As well looking down capgeeks list of UFA cetners: http://capgeek.com/free-agents/?year_id=2014&team_id=-1&position_id=C&fa_type_id=2 He’s in the top 10 of UFA centers this offseason, he surely knows that to.

      I see Stajan and Stempniak as good as gone this offseason. I see a realistic opportunity to keep Camm around before those two.

      I still say the best REBUILD option is to keep Backlund around and trade Stajan+Stempniak at the deadline, you’ll get a hell of a lot better return for either one of them than you will Backlund.

  • I personally would be fine with them letting go of Stajan. It’s like this post is all about. The reason they’re looking to maybe move Backlund is because they have too many same depth Centres in the system. But if that’s the case why not get rid of the guy whose pushing 30 and keep the guy whose 25.. and if anyone thinks Stajan is an important part of the leadership of this team what does he do on the ice that helps us that Backlund can’t provide? I understand his off ice demeanour and that’s all fine. But this is the business of hockey not the business of an NPO that does charity work. Although I sometimes think the hockey decisions of this team are driven by their office business, which really pisses me off.

    I’d keep stempniak and hudler around with GIo and Wideman.

    I’d let Cammy, Glencross (if he choses to) and Stajan go.

    • piscera.infada

      The weird thing about Stajan/Backlund this season is that I would have agreed with you last year. This year though, Stajan has been out Backlund-ing Backlund.

      I like keeping Stemps, Wideman, Gio (obviously. Stajan, is a toss up – he could be worth something if the time and buyer are right. Between Stajan/Backlund I’d rather keep Backlund, yet it depends on return.

  • RexLibris

    Backlund is worth more to the team than he is as a trade asset. I just can’t see equal value coming back.

    As for his potential, he’s a 3rd line center as far as offense goes, I agree, but he has enough offensive smarts that along with his ability to drive possession, he could be a very useful 2nd line center if playing between 2 skilled wingers. The defensive conscience of the line, so to speak.

    The Flames suck. The Flames should suck. They’re in a rebuild. Fans who thought the Flames rebuild was going to put the Oilers rebuild to shame and that it would all be over in 2 seasons are deluded.

    Instead, the Flames are going to make the same mistakes as the Oilers.

    Develop the kids. That’s done by playing them. Move Stajan to clear up the logjam at center. That means Colborne, Backlund and Monahan can all receive substantial ice time, you juggle their line status based on who’s hot that night.

    Harltey needs to realize he’s not coaching a Cup contender here and ownership nees to realize the Flames are a sports franchise, not an oil company.

    • T&A4Flames

      Dead on.

      This year has actually been enjoyable if you started (like I did) with the expectation that the Flames would work hard, they’d stay in a bunch of games and win their share, but they’d never really be in the playoff race. But it’s quickly becoming less enjoyable with this ridiculous fixation on Backlund and Baertschi’s downside rather than their upside and the belief that they can’t keep both Backlund and Colbourne. Move Stajan if you have a logjam.

  • piscera.infada

    Arrrrghh…this latest revalation that they are shopping Backlund drives me nuts. Specifically because of the presence of “Big Ern” in the starting lineup. Ern has proven it is not in his DNA to grab an unwilling combatant, outside his weight class, and pummel them because of a dangerous/stupid foul on a teammate. He won’t do it…and that makes me respect him more than most goons but at the same time it makes him useless 90% of the time. If they insist on playing SOB (if I am the first to use the name please make it stick) then he must take on that role, or Bouma must take on that role, or whoever. The fact that we are wasting a roster spot on a heavyweight that only fights other heavyweights (again I understand and respect) and costs us the chance to roll four decent lines drives me bonkers. Ron Stern where are you?