Mikael Backlund had another solid season for the Calgary Flames

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
1 month ago
Mikael Backlund just finished his 16th season with the Calgary Flames, and his first as the captain of the team. It was another strong campaign from Backlund who once again was a defensive force, shutting down opponents top lines and also helped with a little bit of offence as well. Let’s do a deep dive into his season and give him a letter grade!

The numbers

Mikael Backlund has consistently put up 35-55 points throughout his time with the Calgary Flames. And this season was no different.
Backlund scored 15 goals and added another 24 assists for 39 points over 82 games played.
Backlund was rumoured to have sustained an injury towards the end of the season in a game at home against the Montreal Canadiens. And it showed in his offensive output.
From the beginning of the season to Mar. 16, Backlund produced 37 points in 67 games. Good for a 45-point pace. Strong production for the defensively cautious forward. From March 17th to the end of the season, his final 15 games of the season, Backlund scored no goals and only picked up two assists.
The underlying numbers at 5-on-5 were strong again for Backlund despite playing on a below average team. Here are his numbers and where he ranked among Flames forwards.
The one surprising number is the goals for and goals against when Backlund was on the ice at 5-on-5. He is rarely below the 50% mark. But it makes sense given the fact that he was assigned the most difficult matchups and least amount of offensive zone starts on a below average team.

The eye test

Backlund passed the eye test once again as he had another solid season.
The thing you notice about Backlund when he is one the ice is that the work ethic is always there. He is never going to cheat his team on effort. It’s also impressive to watch him on the first penalty killing unit. He wins draws, sacrifices his body by blocking shots and chips in a little offence every now and then. You have to respect those qualities he brings to the Flames lineup.
He and Blake Coleman were once again one of the most reliable duos in the NHL You can put them on the ice in any situation and you know you’re going to get quality minutes from them.
One thing you would like to see more of from Backlund his him taking advantage of scoring chances more often. There were many times over the course of the season where Backlund would get incredible scoring chances but either miss the net or not pick his spot. It’s been an issue throughout his career. But it was very noticeable at times this season.

What’s next for Mikael Backlund?

Backlund signed a two-year extension with the Flames in September which doesn’t kick in until next season. He was named the 21st captain in franchise history. He is not going anywhere.
On the ice, we can expect to see more of the same from the captain. I don’t foresee him slowing down much even at the age of 35. He is going to continue to be relied on to take on the most difficult minutes and matchups both at 5-on-5 and the penalty kill. And he’ll likely put up 35-45 points.
They’re going to need him to be good again next season because the centre depth, as of right now, in the Flames organization is lacking to say the least. It’s a 35-year-old Backlund, a soon to be 34-year-old in Nazem Kadri, and then an assortment of Connor Zary, Yegor Sharangovich, and Kevin Rooney.
This was another strong year for Mikael Backlund. On the ice he was a reliable forward. And off the ice he did a great job leading the team through a tumultuous season where they saw four of his teammates traded in season. It was not an easy year to become captain of the Calgary Flames, but Backlund handled it like a pro.

Grade: B


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