Mikael Backlund doesn’t get the same type of attention as Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan, but he’s an integral part of the Calgary Flames‘ success and that’s why he was rewarded with a six-year, $32.1-million contract extension Friday evening.
Backlund was coming off a career-high 22-goal, 31-assist campaign and has registered 34 points through 58 games this season, but the 28-year-old brings a lot more to the table than mere point production.
While his 48.7 faceoff win percentage is nothing to brag about, the six-foot-one, 205-pound Swede is among the top two-way centres in the NHL. He currently ranks fourth among forwards in takeaways, boasts strong possession metrics, is the Flames’ top penalty killer — his 2:27 of shorthanded ice time per game ranks 13th in the league among forwards — and finished fourth in Selke Trophy voting in 2016-17.
The signing has received positive early reviews.
Flames GM Brad Treliving deserves a pat on the back for the long-term extensions he has reached with his best players. It’s not outlandish to argue the Flames are getting more bang for their buck compared to the provincial rival Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will have a combined cap hit of $21 million next year, while Backlund, Gaudreau and Monahan will combine for just $18.457 million.
Perhaps Backlund begins to decline as he enters his thirties, but for the time being you’d have to imagine Flames fans are happy with where there team sits.
Backlund choosing to stay in Calgary serves as a vote of confidence for the organization as well, considering he likely could’ve earned closer to $6 million per year if he elected to test the waters on the open market.
“Me and my fiancée, Frida, we’ve put our roots down here and it’s our home. We’re just so excited to stay here,” Backlund told Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson after signing his deal. “I’ve been through some tough times here and some good times, and now I’m very excited because the team is only going to get better. The mission here is just to win. That’s what I like about the organization. All they want to do is just win that Cup and that’s what I’m very excited about it. I’m very looking forward to these years.
“From the beginning, we always said we wanted to stay in Calgary and I’m just so excited and relieved to have it done. I’m not going to lie it’s been on my mind the whole year. I think I have more in myself than I’ve showed this year.”
Here’s a look at Backlund’s closest cap comparables…
— Kyle Turris, six years, $36 million, $6-million cap hit
— Brandon Dubinsky: six years, $35.1 million, $5.85-million cap hit
— Bo Horvat: six years, $33 million, $5.5-million cap hit
— Nick Foligno: six years, $33 million, $5.5-million cap hit
— Frans Nielsen: six years, $31.5 million, $5.25-million cap hit
— Bryan Little: six years, $31.746 million, $5.291-million cap hit
— Artem Anisimov: five years, $22.75 million, $4.55-million cap hit
— Brandon Sutter: five years, $21.875 million, $4.375-million cap hit