21Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik

Everyone’s excited that Backlund’s extension is done

There was an atmosphere of relief and optimism at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday morning. Rather than being related to any Canadian Olympic triumphs, the good feelings were related to Swedish forward Mikael Backlund, who received a long-term contract extension from the Calgary Flames the evening prior.

Almost to a person, everyone’s very excited that the contractual saga is finally over with.

“It’s nice to have it over with, the negotiations, all that,” said Backlund. “This has been in the back of my mind since July 1. I’m very relieved it’s over, but mostly just excited and thrilled, but it’s going to be nice to move forward now.”

From an on-ice perspective, Backlund’s new deal arguably polishes off the only dangling piece of unfinished contractual business and removes a potential distraction from the past two months of the season. He’s been pretty effective this season, but his head coach thinks he could be even better for the home-stretch.

“Backs is a real, he’s a bit of Ferrari in there, like he’s fine-tuned,” said Gulutzan. “The way he lives his life, everything’s gotta be in tune. And I think when you’re negotiating during a year, everything gets off rhythm. I think this next 20-some-odd games is gonna be even better from him.”

Flames captain Mark Giordano summed up the feelings in the locker room regarding the new pact for Backlund.

“It’s a big day for our team,” said Giordano. “Backs is really one of the elite two-way centermen in the league and to get him locked up long term, obviously we feel we’re a team that can win now, get into the playoffs and make some noise, but to have him here is a big statement for our team. Nice for him. I know how those things are, you can get a little thinking about it as the deadline gets closer.”

From an off-ice perspective, Backlund’s six-year extension gives the Flames management group a solidified core group to work with as well as some certainty regarding long-term salary cap room. Both of those things could become important as the Feb. 26 trade deadline creeps closer.

“It allows you to be able to be able to say okay, what holes do you want to address, and it gives you a financial picture of your team,” said general manager Brad Treliving. “And we all hear the same reports, the expectation the cap’s going to rise, but when you have cost certainty at the top end of your roster it allows you some flexibility and takes a little bit of the guesswork out in situations where you want to add or change. It’s helpful.”

Treliving cautioned that the Flames might not do a lot before the trade deadline, but noted that their biggest piece of unfinished business had been completed.

“I know everybody gets juiced up going into the deadline, but our biggest question was Mikael,” said Treliving. “That’s our biggest piece of business coming up to the deadline. You never want to get into a situation where players leave and you get nothing in return, so getting that done was important.”

Injury updates

Gulutzan had a few injury updates after the morning skate: Mike Smith (lower-body) skated on his own on Saturday morning prior to the main group. Troy Brouwer (facial fracture) skated with the main group but remains day-to-day. Kris Versteeg (hip) is skating but not ready to join the game group for “a little while.” Marek Hrivik (undisclosed) was hurt in practice recently and is being evaluated in terms of severity and timelines.

  • RKD

    When BT kept saying Mikael was the biggest question it is true because if he didn’t sign he could walk away July 1st and the Flames would get nothing back. Some don’t like the term I get it, in an ideal world Backs should be our #3C but the reality is Bennett is more comfortable at wing will he ever be a center who knows? Even if he was he’s certainly not a #2C right now. Jankoswki has played well as 3C, to me he’s not ready to be a #2C. This explains why the Flames brass are looking at Ottawa’s Smith to be a #3C and slide Janko back to 4C. We need Backs at the 2C until some of the younger players prove they can handle #2C duties defensively and offensively. Backs does both.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Smith (LHS-C)will be 30 this April 5th and is collecting a $3,250,000 cap hit for the next 3 years after this season, he is a career 10-15 G with ave/30Point guy. with only 4G- 14points this year I would think he is already in his decline phase. Demoting Janks for what would essentially be a Stajan level replacement would not be a Smart move by BT. esp for another 3 years on top! The Flames are Not after Smith(I Hope). Definitely not worth any top prospects/picks going back to Ottawa. Janks will surpass Smith’s #s/ability by next year.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      If Janko is 4C the he will get 7 mins per night which does nothing for his development. To me, he is more of a 2C than a 4C. I think he has stumbled a bit but look at the type of goals he scores compared to Bennett.

  • The Fall

    There are only two retired players who have played more that 400 games in the NHL, all with the Flames: Jim Peplinski (711) and Hakan Loob (450). Backlund is at 519, Gio is at 731, and TJ is at 446.

  • smatic10

    Glad to have Backs around for a while. Treliving usually doesn’t reveal anything in his media availabilities, but he’s mentioned on a few occasions that he’d like to add scoring. I’m glad to hear it because that is something we definitely need. The question is…..who is he pursuing?

  • The GREAT WW

    In the third year of the generational talent McDavid, after 3 other first overall picks, a third and a fourth overall pick THE OILERS ARE TANKING AGAIN?!!!

    Have they no pride?


  • Theo4HoF

    Everyone is looking through rose coloured glasses when it come to Backlund. He doesn’t play physical at all. So when he’s around age 30 and starts to slow down he will be the next whipping boy like Brouwer is now. The league keeps getting faster and youth is the key to staying fast. Backlund in his mid 30’s will be bad.

  • Hockeyfan

    Wow, the Flames writer and mngt. koolaid is strong. Talk about delusion thinking this contract is good for the Flames future. 2 years too long and 750000 too rich. A third line guy next year who has zero chance of being better and a decline in performance is imminent. bad job Tree. just imagine what he would have fetched along with TJ.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    At he Backlund contract might seem a bit high nd long but you could argue that he has been underpaid for the last couple of seasons. This goes for Matty as well.

  • Vinnsanity12

    A couple of years too long, there are times this year already when his play has begun to drop off. Remember this when we’re trying to Brouwer him out of town. The league continues to get younger and faster…