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With several moves in the past few days from the Calgary Flames, it appears that the rebuilding team may not be done when it comes to making changes throughout their roster.
This weekend, it was announced by TSN’s Darren Dreger that four to five teams were “kicking tires” on acquiring 24 year old Mikael Backlund and that further, the Flames were open to moving him. The centerman, who was drafted 24th overall in 2007 by Calgary, appears to be the next potential candidate on the move.
Having some difficulty gaining ice time as one of the more experienced centers for the Flames, Backlund has been shifting back and forth from the top 6 to the bottom 6 of late. Averaging approximately 14:50 of ice time per game, Mikael still remains one of the better face-off men for Calgary at 46% effectiveness.
What's more is that while Backlund isn't producing offensively, he ranks 6th on the team in hits, 8th in blocked shots, 4th in takeaways, and is being used quite often on the PK(36%). As mentioned, despite having low point totals, the young centerman has been used a lot in terms of his defensive capabilities of late which may be restricting his offensive output.
With only two goals and five assists in 22 games so far this season, Backlund is either not responding to the coaching of Bob Hartley, or he may need a change of scenery as the 24 year old tries to prove his worth in the NHL. Aware of the trade rumors, Backlund says he is going to remain focused on his own game and try and ignore the rumblings of late.
“Watching TV and my name comes up, it’s a little surprising. But at the same time, it’s part of the business and it hasn’t been a great start, so you kind of expect it, too, a little bit.”
“I love Calgary. I love the city, the fans, the guys in the room here,” Backlund said. “The organization has been great, so everything is good here. I enjoy my time here.
“Obviously, I want to play better and more, no doubt about that, but it’s a team game and I’m just trying to chip in and play hard.”
That said, it surprises me just a little that the team is in fact looking to move the young center as their depth at that position isn’t exactly strong. Moreover, of all teams who can afford to keep a guy like Backlund around while he develops his game, would be one that is amidst a rebuild. If the Flames do entertain moving the centerman, it could be that teams are calling about him rather than the team shopping him.
At the present moment, I would not imagine that his value would be very high in terms of what he would yield in a trade scenario, and unless another team is calling to inquire about his services, I can’t envision the team receiving much more than a young “project” type player in return.
While I feel that Backlund is a good young player who simply needs to work on and mature his game, right now he is not a hot commodity as he struggles to make an impact on the Flames current roster.
What do you think? Is there reason to look at moving Backlund if the team feels that he’s not the right fit? Do you feel that perhaps teams may be calling for added centerman depth who could provide them with offense down the road?
Thanks for reading!