Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mikael Backlund Swatch Card

The Calgary Flames have secured the services of their best two-way center Mikael Backlund today with a three-year deal that includes his first two seasons of UFA eligibility, showing good faith on both sides that he truly wanted to be an integral part of the team's rebuild and, correspondingly, that they wanted him to be.

The 26-year-old collects point at a one-every-other-game pace, and that could remain stable if he keeps getting third-line minutes, but he could probably reach the 55-point mark with second-unit powerplay time and/or should an injury to either Sean Monahan or Sam Bennett occur.

He's got soft hands, terrific passing ability, and a better-than-average shot. At 6'1'' and 200 pounds, he's pretty strong and will only get harder to knock off the puck. His skill-set led many Flames fans to end up disappointed in his production, but his play at both ends of the ice make him indispensable to the team, and his offensive output ranks above the median rank for centers whose job it is to cover the opponents' top lines.

He's also shown a flair for the dramatic with an overtime goal at home against the Anaheim Ducks last month, in the second round of the playoffs, for the Flames' lone win of the series.

With the wealth of talent now on Calgary, I'm no longer positive he'll eventually play in an All-Star Game (Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau will likely get the bulk of the nods in the next 5 years), but with his two silver medals at the World Juniors (2008 and 2009) and silver (2011) and bronze at the World Championships (2010 and 2014), he'll be a fixture on Team Sweden for a while, and will have excellent chances at an Olympic medal.

Here's card #GG-MBA from Panini's 2013-14 Titanium collection, part of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set:
It shows him wearing the Flames' red (home) jersey, with a matching game-worn swatch that looks much brighter to the naked eye than via scan.

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