Mikael Backlund on his Calgary Flames future: ‘I want to wait and see’

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
9 months ago
It goes without saying that Mikael Backlund has been both very good and very important for the Calgary Flames, both on and off the ice. But Backlund’s contract is set to expire on July 1, 2024, potentially making him an unrestricted free agent.
On the heels of an interview with Uffe Bodin in early July, Backlund spoke to Swedish magazine VLT in an interview published last week, and the fine folks at Swedish outlet Expressen succinctly summarized the interview: in short, Backlund’s not closing the door on remaining with the Flames, but he wants to see how this season goes before committing long-term.
Here’s Backlund, via Google Translate (the usual disclaimers apply regarding translations), discussing the Flames’ interest in a contract extension this off-season:
“We are having a great time in Calgary. So it was a very difficult decision and we thought about it for a long time. Then there are no closed doors to extend later, but last season was tough. A lot has happened in the last year. Then I feel that I want to wait and see.”
“I’m ready to come back and play the season and if it goes great I might want to extend after the season. If it doesn’t go well, we’ll see what happens”
Over at Sportsnet 960, our pal Pat Steinberg offered an update on the Backlund situation on Flames Talk last Friday.
Steinberg characterized the offers on Backlund as “soft.” He also emphasized that the Flames don’t need to be accepting any bad offers or making bad trades, and noted Backlund’s value both as a contributor to the Flames and as a potential in-season trade chip. (It’s worth noting that Backlund finished sixth in Selke Trophy voting in 2022-23.)
Is Backlund refusing to re-sign and eyeing the first flight out of town? It certainly does not seem that way. But after a challenging few seasons, and amidst some pretty big changes within the Flames organization both on and off the ice, you can understand how a player in his mid-30s might want to see how the team looks before locking himself into an extension.
Is Backlund’s future with the Flames uncertain? Yeah, it’s probably fair to phrase it that way. But he’s a quality player under contract for another season, and the 2023-24 season could act as a chance for Backlund and the new-era Flames to try each other out and see if there’s a future fit. If yes, then Backlund could easily be retained and potentially finish his career in Calgary. If not, then Backlund, a smart, effective 200-foot player with Selke bonafides, could become a pretty attractive commodity at the trade deadline.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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