In what may be the first of many accolades to head his way this season, Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund has been announced as a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He was selected by the Calgary chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Chapter head Kristen Odland (of Postmedia) made the declaration earlier today.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) March 24, 2017
Backlund, 28, has had a fantastic year. He’s been flirting with the team lead in scoring for much of the season, he’s anchored the team’s shutdown line alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik, and he’s been probably the club’s most consistent player over the entire season.
Calgary’s first round selection in the 2007 NHL Draft, Backlund has flirted with breakout seasons before but just never quite put it together for a full 82 games. Sometimes he got injured. Sometimes he got healthy scratched. Sometimes he got saddled with awful linemates. But regardless of these obstacles, Backlund has been a consistent (positive) difference-maker for the Flames and his teammates this season (and in prior seasons) despite starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone against the other team’s best players.
He’s pretty good.
We’ve written a ton about Backlund here at FlamesNation over the past seven or eight years. Kent has basically made his name in this market on the basis of his Backlund defending. Pat’s also written a ton about him. I was terrified that the Flames might trade him last spring. If you follow Mike or Ari on Twitter, you’ve heard a ton about Backlund during basically every game (because he does a lot of things very well).
When he suffered a concussion during the World Cup of Hockey, many of us had deja vu and feared that his injury struggles may continue. Thankfully, they didn’t, and he’s having a tremendous, Selke-quality year.
All 30 PHWA chapters nominate a player for the award, followed by a vote among the wider PHWA membership for the award during the annual post-season awards balloting. Named after former Minnesota North Stars forward Bill Masterton, the trophy is awarded annually to the player deemed to exemplify sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey.
Something tells me that this won’t be the only time Backlund’s name pops up in terms of PHWA year-end voting.