Flames prepare for triple milestone night

The Calgary Flames have had players celebrating a bunch of milestones over the 2018-19 season. But Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks features players commemorating a trio of milestones.

Mikael Backlund’s 600th NHL game

It’s been a long road for Backlund. The Flames’ first round pick in 2007 – selected with a pick the St. Louis Blues got from the Atlanta Thrashers in the Keith Tkachuk trade – spent time in Sweden, the Western Hockey League and the American Hockey League before becoming a bonafide NHL regular in the 2010-11 season.

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Backlund debuted in a unique circumstance, playing on an emergency recall on Jan. 8, 2009 following Sweden capturing a silver medal at the World Juniors in Ottawa. He played on a line with Eric Nystrom and Andre Roy in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders, then was sent to WHL’s Kelowna Rockets to finish out the season. (He ended up winning a WHL championship that season.)

The only player on the Flames roster left over from Backlund’s debut is Mark Giordano. Backlund is ninth in franchise history in games played, and only four Flames-drafted players have spent more time with the franchise: Al MacInnis, Theo Fleury, Jim Peplinski and Gary Suter. He’s likely to pass Suter before the end of this season.

An exemplar of patience in player development who didn’t really become what he is now until the 2013-14 season, Backlund has turned into one of the team’s most important players. He’s earned praise for his conduct on the ice, but also for being a mentor to young Flames forwards like Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett.

Sam Bennett and Noah Hanifin’s 300th NHL games

Two other Flames will hit big games-played marks. Bennett and Noah Hanifin both celebrate their 300th contest.

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The Flames’ first rounder in 2014, Bennett has worked through shoulder issues (in the year following his drafting) and some uncertain roles before really finding some consistency this season. Bennett’s embraced his physicality more this season than in the past and has managed to chip in offensively, too. He might not be the player that his fourth overall selection might suggest he should be, and he might never become that, but he’s been effective depth for the team.

The Hurricanes’ first rounder in 2015, Hanifin came over to the Flames in the Dougie Hamiton trade. Still just 22 years old, he’s playing top four minutes for the Flames. He’s benefited from the mentorship of defensive partner Travis Hamonic – especially in the defensive zone – but he’s also been a steady contributor and shown some flashes of a player that could eventually challenge Mark Giordano for top minutes on the left side.

  • Albertabeef

    Congrats to the boys on their milestones. Sadly I will miss tonight’s Flames game as I’m going to the Vic Royals and PG Cougars game. GO FLAMES GO!!!

  • ColdCowboy

    Backs and Bennett are two of my favourite Flames. The team showed remarkable patience with Backlund and it’s paid off with his consistent play. And I love Bennett’s game. Sure I’d love to see him score some more goals, but I’m happy to see him mashing guys into the boards and being the first into every scrum.

  • Baalzamon

    Man Andre Roy. Easily one of the most forgettable players to ever play in this city.

    I mainly remember him because that year there was a bet going on one of the sites I frequented about who would score the Flames’ first goal that year. Everyone lost because it was Roy.

    Also, he had a cannon of a shot he hardly ever used.

  • The Beej

    I feel like the Duchene trade might reveal a little of mgmts thought process.

    IMO Dube>Abramov (AHL results thus far)

    We could have outbid CBJ if we really wanted Duchene.

    Maybe Duchene was not a prime target.. you dont want to blow your wad right out of the gate.

    Could be as well…. so BT calls Dorion… Dube or Kylington available? Nope? K … moving on.

    BT might not be willing to move one of our top prospects or the young D. This I support.

    See what happens… might just take right situation where a team is ok pulling the trigger on what BT is comfortable giving up. So we may have to wait until some of the sexier names are off the market and big time spenders have blown their wads.

    • Getpucksdeep

      Never been a Duchene fan but that’s just my opinion. I agree leave the Stones and Panarins alone. I like that they’ve been in NY scouting but that could just be that they are setting up their war room in NY for Monday. Then the whole teams in NY. I’d like to think they are trying to pry Krieder out of there, but he’d still be costly. Not “Stone” costly but costly. Who knows what Trelivings really up too.

  • MDG1600

    And points in 299 games for Bennett and Hanafin?

    112 for Benny and 111 for Hanafin.

    Make of it what you will but I was surprised that they are essentially the same.

  • Getpucksdeep

    I can’t recall following a player, Backlund, from draft day until now, before. I very much remember Sutter drafting him and his one game stint. (Sutter was a great coach/terrible GM, Backlund aside) I’m from Kelowna and thought that Jr posting was cool. He did his AHL time, learned and went up and down a few times. I also remember a 2 goal game against Detroit, 5-6 years ago, when the Wings were still good and we saw what he might be capable of. Career .5 pts per game doesn’t sound like much but he gets points like clockwork. 308 pts in 599 games. I don’t think anyone saw the 200 foot game develop but it did and what an asset to this team. The oldest actual 1st rounder still with the team and he is the fastest guy on the club. Its been easier to follow young players the last 10-15 years with the AHL, NCAA, Europe and Junior all on the web. Before that we could only read stats in the old newspaper format “Hockey News”. Backlund will reach the Silver Stick with one team for sure.

  • freethe flames

    There have been calls to trade Backs for years and tonight he gets to 600 games and has developed into a solid 2 way player. People have called for Bennett to be moved and tonight he gets to 300. Bennett’s progress likes Backs has been slow but steady and he likely will never be what we hoped for when we drafted him 4th overall but he becoming a solid 2 way player.