With the the Kyle Turris rumor floating around, one of the comparisons that keeps coming up is to Calgary’s own Mikael Backlund. In part to judge Turris’ worth on the ice, but also becasue Backlund is one of the assets assumed to be involved in a potential deal.
Neither guy has much time in the NHL, so there isn’t a lot of data to work with. We’ll go off their sophomore seasons from last year.
First up, the counting stats. Turris appeared in 65 games, averaged about 11 minutes per night (1.5 on the PP) and scored 11 goals and 25 points. Backlund appeared in 73 games, averaging about 12 minutes per night (only 0.5 minutes on the PP)  and managed 10 goals and 25 points. Both have ’89 birthdays (22-years old) and were taken in the first round of the 2007 draft. Not a lot to seperate them so far.
Advertisement
Ad
On to the advanced stuff. First we’ll look at Backlund’s relative corsi, zone start and relative quality of competition:
Backlund
Relative corsi: +15.2 (2nd)
Zone start: 54.3% (3rd easiest)
Relative Qual Comp: -0.168 (3rd easiest)
Backlund faced some of the easier minutes on the team, but managed to put up one of the best possession rates as well. He has mostly been protected his entire time in the big leagues, but has never garnered a negative corsi rate. That’s the first step you look for in developing kids.
Turris
Relative corsi: +9.9 (2nd)
Zone start: 66.1% (Easiest)
Relative Qual Comp: -0.673 (Easiest)
Turris’ circumstances were similar, but cushier than Backlund’s. His ZS ratio was a nearly 12% higher and he faced even easier competition. Mikael ventured beyond the fourth line for the Flames now and then, particularly when he skated with Jarome and Tanguay at the end of the season. This data suggests Tippett made sure Turris never saw anything more than the other team’s drones. 
Advertisement
Ad
To further compare the two, we can correct their corsi rate for starting position, essentially "zeroing out" the effect of high offensive zone starts (which tend to add about +0.8 corsi per extra faceoff in the offensive end).
PlayerES icecorsi rateraw corsio-zoned-zoneZS differentialcorr corsicc/60
Backlund
769
14.89
191
216
182
-34
164
12.77
Turris
634
8.92
94
193
99
-94
19
1.80
Here is where we see Backlund pull away a bit. It looks like a majority of Turris’ positive possession rate came from his extremely high ZS ratio (the 8th highest in the league amongst regular forwards). Backlund, however, still sports a double digit corsi rate even after we take zone starts into account.
This analysis supports my earlier contention that Turris has done next to nothing to prove himself at the NHL level thus far. Last year was the first time he merely held his head above water in the big league, which explains the Coyotes disinterest in signing him to a big ticket as well as the lack of impetus to get him back onto the active roster. There’s potential there because Turris is still young and has a nice pedigree, but that’s about it.
Advertisement
Ad
I’ll reiterate that Turris is worth some interest as a trade target, but only if the cost to acquire him is low. His current on-ice value isn’t nothing, but it’s close. The purpose of adding him is to hope he figures things out and takes a few giant steps forward, otherwise he’s basically a replacement level player. Also, any talk of dealing Backlund for him is nonsensical: at best, the Flames are running in place with that kind of deal. At worst, they’re moving the superior player.