How Good is Mikael Backlund?

Twenty-six-year-old centreman Mikael Backlund is easily the most controversial player to be profiled in this series, and maybe one of the most divisive Flames players in recent memory.

In the other articles so far, the title prefix of “how good is…” was entirely rhetorical. From Gaudreau to Giordano, each skater is undeniably a star or cornerstone player. Almost all fans would agree they are “core guys”. The question is a legitimate this time around.

Backlund is still considered largely expandable in most corners of Flames Nation. The popular sentiment is that he is a pretty good third line centre – a “nice to have”, but a guy you could leverage or package to fill another roster hole if possible. Third line C’s aren’t exactly rare after all. Even good ones.

The perception is understandable. Backlund is not a compelling player by most traditional measures. He’s not big or physical. He’s doesn’t boast a booming snapshot and he can’t really dangle through the bad guys at the blueline. His counting stats are mostly mediocre.

But there’s a reason myself and other writers at this site tirelessly defended Backlund. Even though he doesn’t wow the eyeballs crowd or win scoring races, what he does do – consistently, imperceptibly – is the one thing that wins hockey games. 

Drive goal differential. 

To Move Forward Go Backlund

For Gaudreau, Monahan and everyone else in this series, I have simply compiled a collection of impressive counting stats and trivia showing how well they compare to their peers and to other Flames historically. However, because Backlund’s value is hidden below the surface of traditional numbers, understanding his contributions is a bit more involved. That means we need to dig a bit deeper and go bit more unconventional. The numbers here will seem esoteric and overwhelming, but in fact it’s all very simple. And definitive. 

The following three tables feature shot and goal statistics at even strength (5on5) over the last three seasons. The guys included are five Flames players who have skated at C at least semi-regularly over the last three seasons. I have mixed up the order and concealed the names for now. 

All numbers via Corsica Hockey.

All Shot Attempts (Corsi)

Player Season GP CF CA Cdiff CF60 CA60 CF%
PLAYER 1 2013-2016 217 2207 2632 -425 49.72 59.3 45.61
PLAYER 2 2013-2016 102 895 1202 -307 46.74 62.77 42.68
PLAYER 3 2013-2016 202 2024 2429 -405 50.72 60.87 45.45
PLAYER 4 2013-2016 210 2588 2544 44 56.29 55.33 50.43
PLAYER 5 2013-2016 237 2826 3332 -506 51.95 61.25 45.89

Shots on Goal

Player Season GP SF SA Sdiff SF60 SA60 SF%
PLAYER 1 2013-2016 217 1128 1284 -156 25.41 28.93 46.77%
PLAYER 2 2013-2016 102 453 577 -124 23.65 30.13 43.98%
PLAYER 3 2013-2016 202 1084 1217 -133 27.16 30.5 47.11%
PLAYER 4 2013-2016 210 1355 1225 130 29.47 26.64 52.52%
PLAYER 5 2013-2016 237 1464 1656 -192 26.91 30.44 46.92%

Expected and Actual Goals

Player Season GP xGF60 xGA60 xGF% GF GA Gdiff GF60 GA60 GF%
PLAYER 1 2013-2016 217 2.1 2.54 45.28 106 113 -7 2.39 2.55 48.4
PLAYER 2 2013-2016 102 2.06 2.61 44.12 43 54 -11 2.25 2.82 44.33
PLAYER 3 2013-2016 202 2.21 2.43 47.66 81 97 -16 2.03 2.43 45.51
PLAYER 4 2013-2016 210 2.37 2.33 50.38 114 102 12 2.48 2.22 52.78
PLAYER 5 2013-2016 237 2.28 2.59 46.79 132 142 -10 2.43 2.61 48.18

Lots of acronyms and numbers, but these results are clear and unambiguous.

For each table you have base counts and per 60 (minutes of ice time) rates of the stat in question. Then we have differentials and ratios. The one thing to look at if you start to go crosseyed is the last number in every table. It shows the Flames ratio of that particular metric with player X on the ice. At 50% or more the Flames got more of X than the opposition. Below 50% means they gave up more. 

Backlund being the subject of this article spoils this thought experiment somewhat. It becomes immediately obvious glancing over these charts that one player is head and shoulders better than the rest – the Flames get more shots, score more goals and even have better expected goals results (based on shot quality models) than their opponents with PLAYER 4 on the ice at 5on5. That’s Backlund. He’s the best at every one of these measures. And not by a little bit.

The other guys included here are Matt Stajan, Joe Colborne, Markus Granlund and Sean Monahan. Can you tell any of them apart? 

This is the unique magic of Mikael Backlund. The team is 500+ shot attempts, +300 shots and +20 goals better at ES with Mickis on the ice than, Sean Monahan over three seasons, but Monahan is poised to sign a long-term $6M contract this summer, while Backlund is frequently considered trade fodder at roughly half that price. 

Did I mention that Backlund plays in much tougher circumstances than Sean?

BacksUsage

The usage chart illustrates how each player in question has been deployed over the last three seasons. As usual, the Y-axis is the quality of competition each guy faces (higher up = tougher) while the X-axis is zone start ratio, or how often each guy starts in the offseason zone (further right = more offensive zone starts). Bubble colour equates to corsi ratio (possession). Blue = good, red = bad. 

Backlund plays equally tough opposition to Monahan, but starts more often in the defensive zone. Don’t forget, Monahan’s most frequent line mates have been guys like Johhny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler. Backlund, in contrast, has been stuck with constantly rotating misfit toys, including Colborne, Mason Raymond, Lance Bouma, David Jones and Paul Byron. his best linemate so far has been Michael Frolik, and then only for part of the most recent season.  

I limited the list to Flames centres for simplicity, but Backlund pretty consistently leads all Flames forwards in these sorts of metrics year in and year out. He’s always one of the club’s top three skaters in terms of scoring chances, shots and shot attempts differentials. Every season.

By the way, we haven’t gotten into Backlund’s PK work. 

Over the last three seasons, only three Flames players have seen over 300 minutes of ice time at 5on4: Backlund, Stajan and Bouma. Backlund’s results are by far the best.

For example, the Flames surrender 11 more shot attempts per hour with Stajan on the ice and 21 more shots per hour with Bouma skating. They also get more shots and goals for with Backs skating versus the other two. Oh, and Backlund has nine SH goals over that period. His 10 SH points at 5on4 since 2013 rank him fourth overall in the entire league. The three guys ahead of him? Jonathan Toews, Jamie Benn and Brad Marchand. Of them, only Marchand has more goals (10).

The Backlund Bump

The plaudits don’t end there. Pat Steinberg recently wrote an article on Backlund’s persistently positive effect on his linemates. He showed how skating with Backlund almost universally improves a guy’s scoring and shot ratios.

We’ll reiterate that point with this WOWY (With or Without You) table. Again, this if for the last three years and is at even strength. We limited this investigation to skaters who spent at least 300 minutes with Backlund.

backwowy

Again, lots of info but the implications are obvious. For each guy, the grey bar represents his results away from Backlund. The blue bar represents his results while playing with Backlund (orange is Backlund away from the player). As you can see, just about everyone improves with Backlund. 

Conclusion

The easiest way to conceptualize Backlund’s impact is “instant chemistry”. Anyone who plays with him sees their underlying numbers improve. The Flames take more shots, get more chances and score more goals than the bad guys with Backlund on the ice. He’s the only regular Flames forward you can say that about over the last three years. He’s also the team’s best PKer. 

In short, Backlund isn’t a merely a “good” third line centre. He’s one of the most important forwards on Calgary’s roster with one of the best value contracts in the league. He’s not expendable or convenient trade fodder. He’s a core component the team should keep and build around if the goal is to become a contender in the West.

  • JumpJet

    Who are comparable players in terms of driving play forward under similar circumstances? Toews, Benn, and Marchand are mentioned in regards to shorthanded points. Would Backlund be in the same conversation as those guys if his counting stats were better?

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Backlund has value for sure, in fact; he will never have more value than he does right now….

      A smart GM realizes this and makes the right move at the draft table…

      WW

      • Bananaberg

        Backlund’s value can still go higher. Given the stats the Kent presented (which look at the past 3 seasons), why would he all of a sudden fall off?

        What kind of value are you suggesting BT gets for Backlund at the draft table this year? Is it a guy who will be as effective as Backlund this season? With a starting goalie pickup (CGY, TOR, maybe CAR, and maybe DAL are the only real buyers for goalies this summer; while there are many more goalie sellers), CGY is much more prepared for the playoffs.

        Why not keep Backlund for 2 more years to better understand his role on the team as they have to face ANA, STL, CHI, LA, SJ, etc. in the playoffs? We need three “second lines” to play with those teams.

  • Derzie

    It’s all about the conclusions. The numbers, as presented, are compelling but incomplete. Do you really believe that Backlund is better than Monahan? They are both deployed differently. I am asking, not knowing the answers.I’m a big proponent of Goal Differential and I’m glad possession is not the highlight here. There are dumb hockey people but not all hockey people are dumb. What doesn’t Backlund get universal love? It can’t all be glitz related. Bergeron is a darling and not an flashy player. How does Backlund compare to the prototypical 2 way players like Bergeron or Datsyuk? He plays a different game than Colborne & Monny (like Stajan though).

    • freethe flames

      One of the key differences between the 3 names you mention is or has been quality of personal around them. The Flames if we are honest have not had the elite quality forwards around as say Boston or Detroit.(yes Johnny and Monny but both are only now vets) I’m not saying that Backs is as good as either of these guys but if we can build a better second line around Bennett and keep Backs playing with the same linemates say Frolik and say a Shinkaruk/Ferland I would expect his offensive production to go up.

    • smith

      Of course he is deployed differently. He is played in harder circumstances just like Kent said.

      Sometimes I just do not understand? If the flames have a better goal differential (i.e. win more games) with Backlund on the ice than any other forward how is he not the best forward on the team? Is that not the goal of the game? To outscore the opposition. Who cares how he does it. Backlund is consistently played against players like Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Benn, Tavares, Seguin etc AND the flames still outscore the opposition when he is on the ice.

      For all those people who say that Backlund don’t look good, I say who cares how awful he looks as long as he outproduces the opposition. He could be doing snow angels on the ice for all I care.

    • Baalzamon

      How does Backlund compare to the prototypical 2 way players like Bergeron or Datsyuk?

      Bergeron and Datsyuk are 2-way forwards. Backlund is a defensive forward. A fine distinction, maybe, but an important one.

      You don’t compare Hamilton (an offensive defenseman) to Drew Doughty (an all-around defenseman). Why would you not afford Backlund the same courtesy?

      Backlund’s comparables are guys like Marcus Kruger, Lars Eller, and Carl Soderberg. And Mickis is the best of the lot.

      • Bananaberg

        Good points, the comps should be relevant for Backlund. That said, the article does an excellent job showing just how effective Backlund is.

        What’s more, we actually haven’t really given Backlund a chance to test/show his offensive prowess because he hasn’t really had the linemates to produce with. Frolik is an excellent addition, but we could use more talent on that line.

        And I think that Backlund should be our lock #2 center. Bennett needs more development time to work on his all-around game and faceoffs. He’s primed for the #3 center role this season, with Backlund taking the tough matchups.

        Teams that are winning in the playoffs this year (and previous years) show the following characteristics:

        – Speed, talent, and durability across their top 3 lines
        – An effective 4th line that plays ~8-10 minutes per game
        – Three “second lines”
        – Excellent PP and PK
        – Scoring/production from the blueline

        Without hitting on each of the above, a team can’t break into the final four in any playoff run.

        Backlund is a key piece for CGY that should be part of our core going forward. He allows us to build out a great shut down line that can also chip in, and should be considered our top PK center.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          Backlund was a .25ppg player in his draft +3 season playing a lot with Iginla. Bennett Did better as an 18 year old after missing most of the season after shoulder surgery. The only thing separating 19 year old Sam Bennett from 27 year old Mikael Backlund is experience. Before this season finishes Sam will be looking back in the rear view mirror and see both Mikael and Sean in it. And not because Sam was traded.

  • calgaryfan

    I try to see the value in Backlund but watching him play the game tells me he could be easily replaced. He skates across the red line and dumps the puck in the corner or crosses the blue line and shoots a muffin at the goalies chest pad. He avoids physical contact and gets paid 3.75 million per year.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      This is exactly the point Kent tries to make. Backlund isn’t a compelling centremen. There isn’t a single thing about his game that will get you out of your seat. No big hits, booming shots, no outstanding skating or speed. His counting stats are average at best. He doesn’t typically drive to the front of the net. He doesn’t block a thousand shots. He’s not even big or local. Nothing to write home about.
      Michael Backlund gets the job done. Despite being simply average at every hockey quality we’ve come to enjoy, he make players around him better and outmatches his opponents. In short, he gets the job done.

      Next year, take note of where he starts his shift, who the opposing players are and where the puck is when Backlund leaves the ice.

      • calgaryfan

        I have been watching him since he was in Kelowna, thought he was going to be a good player for the Flames. I believe the Flames will need a 3rd line centre that brings more to the table than just starting shifts in the defensive zone or dumping the puck into the offensive zone. Do you see him making the roster of the Penguins, Sharks, Lightning, or Ducks. I do not.

        • Greatsave

          Late to the thread, but man, are you saying that Backlund couldn’t beat out Bonino and Cullen, Filppula and Boyle, Wingels and Tierney, or Rakell and Horcoff?

          San Jose’s a peculiar case with their C depth (Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau, Couture, Hertl, and so on), but to suggest that Backlund couldn’t even *make the team* is ludicrous.

      • SmellOfVictory

        I actually really disagree when people say there isn’t anything compelling about Backlund’s game. His forecheck and backcheck are relentless, and he’s wicked fast. He’s a fun dude to watch, in addition to being good at the “little things”.

        • JKG

          One thing I always notice about him is he’s never a liability out there. He reads the play exceptionally well and is always positionally sound. That said, I think that’s also what can be perceived as frustrating about him too, sometimes I’d love to see him take a few more chances and see what he can do, but I guess that’s his thing, reliability. Bouwmeester frustrated me the same way, but once he was gone I kinda missed him.

      • FireScorpion

        Next year I will be taking note of his start to the season and see if he decides to produce any points whatsoever in the first 40 games of the season ..or if he will only start turning it on when the season has been decided as he did last season. Let us not forget that his complete lack of any offensive production for the first half a season was a major factor in the lack of secondary scoring the team had until they were way too far back.

        • freethe flames

          When did Bennett play his most productive hockey? When he was playing with Backs. When was that? Again some people love to dwell on the negative and some live a dream world and only see the positive. Backs is not the perfect player, he did however take steps forward this year, he helps others be better(it’s hard to argue this when you see how much better Bouma, Bennett, and Colborne have all been playing on his left side); however we all expect more because we see that there may be more to give. Personally I would be pleased if my 3rd line averaged 18 goals a season and had as many tough match ups as Back’s line usually faces. The problem with the Flames is that they are 3 higher end forwards short; one to play with Johnny and Monny and two to play with Sam.

          • FireScorpion

            The way people go on about him it’s like anyone that gets points with him do it solely because of Backlund. I’m shocked and stunned Monahan and Gaudreau have turned out the way they have without skating on a line with Backs.
            Oh but Backlund takes alllll the tough ice time and that’s why Monny and Johnny are so good right?

          • freethe flames

            In rereading my comment I don’t know where I said he takes all the tough ice time. Also I give tonnes of credit to Johnny and Monny as they also make others better paying with them. If Backs is so bad as you imply; who would you replace him with either from within of from the UFA market.

        • flamesburn89

          Apart from Backlund’s horrible start to the season in October, where nearly everyone on the Flames was pure junk, he had a pretty consistent year offensively. 1 points in 12 October games, 7 points in 12 November games, 7 points in 13 December games, 7 points in 11 January games, 9 points in 14 February games, 8 points in 16 March games, and 8 points in 4 April games.

          While he did score at a better ppg in the later months of the season, he was producing points just fine in November and December. He had 1 bad early stretch of games in October which seems to have clouded some fans’ assessment of him (perhaps due to primacy effect). So I guess this kind of offensive production doesn’t jive with your statement that Backlund had a “complete lack of any offensive production for the first half a season.”

          • FireScorpion

            I would say 13 points in his first 33 games compared to 34 in his last 49 does.
            Start a season like he finished and yeah my tune will change. Start again like he did and Well I guess we’ll hear how he’s not expected to score from the apologists

  • Kevin R

    Kent, I just don’t see how you can look to far ahead & plan to rebuild around Backlund. He has 2 years left. You think we are a contender next year with the bad contracts & lack of a goalie? How about the year after that, maybe a playoff team, contender, I don’t know about that. Then his contract is up. You think he resigns at 3.5mill per? He’ll be 29 & he will want at least a 5 year deal & the number start at a $5.0 mill + .

    So in 2 years do you resign to significant $$$, a 29 year old or do you run with the 2 earliest draft picks(both centres) in Franchise history who will be 23 & 21 respectively who will be resigned to more $$$ long term. You simply can’t afford a Backlund as your 3rd line elite centre getting paid as a #2 centre. Why the Pens had to move Jordon Staal. Im sure they would have loved to have Jordon Staal as their #3. Or are you saying we rebuild around Backlund & Monahan or Backlund & Bennett. If that’s the case then it’s time to trade Bennett or Monahan & see if you can get the #3 over all + another piece from Columbus.(We do keep the #6 in this scenario)

    Otherwise, maybe Backlund is worth more than I thought & maybe we can trade him, Hickey & the #35 for the #3 & then we are drafting #3 & #6.
    Either way you approach this, not sure how he becomes a corner stone #3 & not to be traded. In a cap world something has to give here. Maybe based on what you presented here says Backlund is a very valuable payer & we should trade him while his value is peaked.

  • Hockeyfan

    keep hi mas a 3rd line center until the end of his contract and trade him at deadline. Analytics in hockey is for accountant types who have never played a game of hockey and can’t recognize a good or bad player through their play, so much fluff. Play Bennett at 2nd line center all year.

  • beloch

    Backlund is a bit like Frolik in that he’s a good possession player with a lot of utility, except he’s a center, scores more, and is cheaper. What’s not to like?

    Well, there is one thing. He’s been injured a lot. 2015-2016 was his first 82 game season, and odds are he’ll be injured frequently in the future too. This lack of dependability is probably the main reason he’s not making more than Frolik is.

    That being said, it would be pretty hard to acquire a a third line center who is as good and cheap as Backlund, but more durable. If you can’t do that, and nobody within the Flames’ system develops into a similar sort of player, then Backlund is not expendable. Maybe he will be a few years down the road when we see what prospects like Arnold or Jankowski are, but not now.

    • Kevin R

      Problem is, at age 29 being due for a big raise, his value will be a fraction of what it is today. If we didn’t have Janko or Arnold or even Grant ready for prime time, I would say you have to keep him at least 1 more year to bridge Bennett’s development. I think we use him to score that big Fin kid at #3, move Frolik up to play with Bennett & Pulji & let Janko or Arnold finally prove they are 3rd line calibre. Or put Pulji on with Monahan & Gaudreau & put Bennett, Frolik & Shink on that 2nd line.

      • freethe flames

        Are you suggesting that Backs and the 6th would get this done?

        If Arnold and Grant don’t show more this year they likely will be gone before Backs contract expires. Janko has two years to prove he belongs, I’m pulling for kid.

        • Kevin R

          Well if Kent is right & Backlund has the numbers, Columbus needs a top 2 centre pretty bad. Is that too much to pay for moving up 3 spots to that upper ledge? Based on my trashes for trading Backlund, if Backlund is that valuable, we may be able to keep the #6 too & put other pieces in. I just don’t think other GM’s think as highly of Backlund as FN & therefore Backs & the #6 might not be enough.

  • freethe flames

    I’m a Backlund supporter and I feel we get good value for him; however if the right deal was on the table and he was a part of it I would be okay with that. I have no idea what that deal would look like but I am okay with it. Virtually no one on this team should be untouchable if the right deal comes up.

  • mk

    I love Monahan and Bennett as our top 2 centres of the future, but I think they are still a couple years from complete players. I bet lots of Backlund-doubters would be surprised by the negative impact losing Backlund would have on Monahan & Bennett. Those tough minutes (which Backlund kills at) have to go to someone. He is the prototypical 3rd line centre who fills in well at 2C when necessary.

    • Kevin R

      Not arguing he can’t be an amazing bridge for Monahan & Bennett, but if we want to move forward Bennett & Monahan need to not be sheltered & carry some of the lifting. That’s where an Arnold or Janko may rise & be proficient 3rd line centres. If the decision is Monahan & Backlund are our top 2 centres that we build around, then Tre needs to show mega balls & score that #3 & Rychel for Bennett. I think that would be a mistake. But based on the analytics that have been presented, the move could be justified.

      Whatever, I’ll stop this angle & conform to the mainstream that keeping Backlund will just benefit the development of Monahan & Bennett as our top 2 centres & accept the reality we will probably lose Backlund in 2 years if he keeps trending as he’s been & his return will be significantly reduced.

  • reidja

    I am truly surprised by the proportion of comments from the flat earth/climate change denier community under this very accessible look at the science of Backlund. If you read Kent’s article and still don’t appreciate this player, there may be no hope for you.

    One thing I would like to see, if part 2 of “How Good is Backlund?” is ever written, would be Back’s career progression as a possession-driving forward. This might help put guys like Monahan’s early career numbers in a context that hopefully points toward a more positive possession future.

    Thanks for the great read as always Kent.

  • MontanaMan

    How good is Backlund? Not good enough to make Team Sweden in the WHC. He’s good enough to be a third line centre for the Flames but nothing more. In this day of budgeting, the Flames need to start paying their 5/6 defence men accordingly and they also need to pay their #3 and #4 centres the right price in order to afford Gaudreau, Monahan, Brodie and potentially a number one goalie or a free agent like Okposo. It’s not that I don’t believe Backlund is a good player because I do. But I don’t believe he’s great, believe he can be replaced by Arnold and believe the Flames can use his talents to trade to fill some very big holes like RW or goaltending.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      I would say Backlund should be rank as a good third line centre that can play#2 minutes if needed. He may not be part of a so called core but he can definitely be a solid supporting player to Calgary’s lineup.

    • Greatsave

      That’s BS. Backlund was at the World Championships this year and has represented Sweden 4 times in the past 7 years, plus twice in the World Juniors before that, plus twice in the U-18’s before that. Get your facts straight.

    • Greatsave

      If it’s the World CUP you’re referring to, well, the World Cup is a joke. Letang, Kessel, Subban, Hamilton, Gio, Brodie, O’Reilly, Nyquist, we could go on and on.

  • MattyFranchise

    I love Backlund as a player and this article perfectly illustrates all of the reasons why. He’s reasonably priced, defensively responsible, and most importantly, he makes everyone around him better.

    • Backburner

      Backlund’s contract is amazing, kudos to Treliving for that.

      Another bonus with Backs is that he is consistently one of the best players in fitness categories at Flames training camp.

  • Thunder1

    Monahan and Gadreau… $15 m/year
    Bennet and ???… $3 m plus ???/year
    Backlund and Frolik $8 m/year

    IMHO, three pairs gets us into the dance next year, but we need some help on the river card to get it done. Trading any one of the five cards we are holding means changing strategy late in the round. Even if we could swing a trade for Backlund and our 6 pick to move up, it might fill the hole beside Bennett if whoever we draft can step right in and not only play as an under 20, but contribute… Significantly!!

    Backlund is cost effective, youngish and trending up. It could be a monster season from him next year I think.

    Plus, those eyes. It’s something about those eyes of his that tells me he’s a solid part of our top six.

    It’s too bad we have only five guys playing in our top six. A bit of luck on the turn (Shinkaruk, Stockton wild card or Nylander/Dubois/ Tkachuk) and Treliving can focus our remaining resources on our most glaring need between the pipes.

    • Kevin R

      I can’t help but not think that during the lockout, Backlund went to Europe & played wing with Berglund & they were monsters. It literally brought a bit of his confidence back because the year before the lockout he had a miserable injury filled season & Feaster/Brent Sutter were really down on him. So a light just went on from your post.

      Why can’t Backlund play wing for Bennett? We keep our possession monster in the top 6, his next contract will be higher & that will be OK if he’s a top 6 winger & it gives us an option if we have injuries. Then that opens up that 3rd line Centre for Janko or Arnold or Grant. Problem solved & both sides are happy.

  • MonsterPod

    Comparing Backlund’s Corsi to Monahan is unfair. Monny has been 19, 20, & 21 the past three seasons. What was Backlund’s corsi at that age?

    Monny has quickly become what we always hoped Backs would be — a scoring first line center. Remember when we drafted Backlund? Hopes were high.

    My problem with Backlund is twofold: he’s not good in the dot and he intimidates no one considering he’s supposed to shut down star players.

    Backlund FO % past 5 years:
    47
    48
    47
    47
    45

    Trash me all day, but a good shut down, third line center needs to be bigger, more physical, and better in the dot — like Jarrett Stoll about 5 years ago.