Mikael Backlund enjoyed the finest season of his career in 2016-17, as he posted new career highs in goals (22) and assists (31), breaking the 50-point mark for the first time. Perhaps even more promising was the fact that the Swedish pivot exploded for a career-best 16 power-play points while enjoying his highest-ever man-advantage ice time. Add in the fact that he's a great possession player (54.74 Corsi For percentage) who's willing to put the puck on net (career-high 197 shots on goal in 2016-17), and you've got the makings of a potential breakout player on an improving Calgary offense. That said, at 28 years old, Backlund's more of an established veteran than a rising prospect at this point, so don't expect superstardom to come his way.
Backlund (back) is listed on the Flames' training camp roster, suggesting that he's recovered from his injury. Fantasy owners should be eager to get a glimpse of Backlund after he posted career highs across the board offensively last season; we're talking about 22 goals and 31 helpers, with 16 points of those on the man advantage. The Swede skipped the 2017 IIHF World Championship due to his most recent ailment, but the condition evidently wasn't too serious, so he appears ready to roll into the 2017-18 season.
Backlund will not play with Team Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Championships due to recurring back pain, Roger Millions of Sportsnet reports. Backlund only missed one game out of a possible 86 during the Flames' 2016-17 campaign, so it's hard to fault the 27-year-old for wanting to take some time off the ice. Despite the back issue, he's fully expected to be ready for Calgary's offseason programs leading up to the 2017-18 season.
Backlund tacked on two assists -- including one on the power play -- Monday, but the Flames ended up losing Game 3 to the Ducks in overtime, 5-4. Backlund's passing skills helped the Flames take a 4-1 lead in the second period, only for Calgary's club to allow four unanswered goals to the utter shock and dismay of the home crowd. The Swede seems to be pulling his weight with three points in as many games during this quarterfinal round, but the Flames are in a 3-0 series deficit, so fantasy owners in playoff pools may not be able to use Backlund much longer.
Backlund scored while shorthanded in Saturday's Game 2 loss to the Ducks. It was a great individual effort from Backlund, who fired five shots on goal in the loss. The Flames may be trailing 2-0 in the series, but Backlund set a career high in goals this year and could play a key role when the series shifts back to Calgary. The two-way center is skating alongside Matthew Tkachuk and will need to improve on his lackluster career playoff totals for the Flames to make a comeback.
Backlund managed a primary assist on the game's first goal by Michael Frolik on Friday. The Flames beat the Stars at home, 3-1. It's been an outstanding year for Backlund, as his helper put him in a tie for the team's points lead at 49, sharing the gaudy total with wunderkind Johnny Gaudreau. But that's not all for Backlund, as he reigns supreme on the power play with seven goals and 15 points on the man advantage to complement seven game-winners. He's cruising past career-high marks in several categories, so hopefully he keeps it up with the fantasy playoffs right around the corner.
Rank Among Leaders
Last 7 Games
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