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Mikael Backlund (born 17 March 1989) is a Swedish professional ice hockey centre currently playing for and serving as an alternate captain for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL). Backlund was a first round selection, 24th overall, of the Flames in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and made his NHL debut in 2008–09. He played junior hockey for VIK Västerås HK in the J20 SuperElit and the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He was a member of Kelowna's WHL championship team in 2009.

Mikael Backlund
Mikael Backlund 140328.png
Born (1989-03-17) 17 March 1989 (age 29)
Västerås, Sweden
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 199 lb (90 kg; 14 st 3 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team Calgary Flames
National team  Sweden
NHL Draft 24th overall, 2007
Calgary Flames
Playing career 2008–present

Internationally, Backlund has represented Sweden on several occasions—he was a member of two silver medal-winning teams at the World Junior Championship, and has won a bronze, silver and gold medals with the Swedes at the World Championship.

Contents

Playing careerEdit

Västerås HKEdit

Backlund began his junior hockey career with the VIK Västerås HK organization in the J20 SuperElit, Sweden's premier junior league. His impressive two-way play earned him the opportunity to play for Västerås' senior team in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan as a 16-year-old. In his debut on 2 November 2005, during an away game against Växjö Lakers, Backlund scored a goal in the first period of a 4–0 win and was selected as the player of the game for his team.[citation needed] He tallied four points in his 12 games in HockeyAllsvenskan during the 2005–06 season. That same season, Backlund was dominant in the 2006 TV-pucken, a national under-17 tournament in Sweden played among districts. Leading the tournament in goal- and point-scoring, he was selected as the most valuable player and given the Sven Tumba Award as best forward in the tournament.[1]

Backlund played another two seasons for Västerås HK, splitting time in the J20 SuperElit and HockeyAllsvenskan. During this time, he was selected in the first round, 24th overall, by the Calgary Flames in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Scouts had ranked him second amongst European skaters.[2] Following the 2007–08 season, Backlund signed an entry-level contract with the Flames.[3] He impressed during the rookie camp but was not as successful during the main training camp,[4][5] and started the 2008–09 season playing on loan for Västerås back in HockeyAllsvenskan.[5] After his success in the 2009 World Junior Championships, he returned to Calgary and made his NHL debut on 8 January 2009, in a 5–2 win against the New York Islanders. Soon thereafter, the Flames assigned him to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the remainder of the 2008–09 season. Competing for the Rockets in the 2009 WHL playoffs, Backlund tied teammate Jamie Benn for the League lead with 13 goals in 19 games as Kelowna defeated the Calgary Hitmen in the final to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.[6]

Calgary FlamesEdit

 
Backlund skating against the Penguins in 2013

Backlund began the 2009–10 season with the Flames' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. On 26 January 2010, he was called up to play on the NHL squad,[7] and scored his first NHL goal on 28 January against the Phoenix Coyotes. He split the season between the AHL and NHL, scoring 32 points in 54 games in Abbotsford, and ten points in 23 games with Calgary.[8] Though he spent most of the 2010–11 season in Calgary, Backlund struggled offensively early, and after scoring just eight points in his first 32 games, was sat out of six consecutive games as a healthy scratch before being sent to Abbotsford on a brief conditioning stint.[9] He appeared in 73 games for the Flames, scoring ten goals and 25 points.[10]

Injuries plagued Backlund throughout 2011–12. He was expected to centre the Flames' top line between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, but suffered a broken finger in training camp that twice required surgery to repair and caused him to miss the first six weeks of the season.[11] He then suffered a shoulder injury in a mid-February game while attempting to confront a Vancouver Canucks player he felt had injured a teammate.[12] The injury ended his season, and in 41 games, he scored only 11 points.[13]

Following the season, the Flames re-signed Backlund to a new contract for the 2012–13 season, a one-year deal worth US$725,000.[14] However, with the season's start delayed by a labour dispute, Backlund returned to Sweden for the balance of the lockout. He re-joined Västerås and appeared in 23 games for the team, scoring 12 goals and 30 points before returning to North America after a new deal between the NHL and its players was reached. His performance with Västerås provided a confidence boost for Backlund, who said that he wanted to return to Calgary and "show everybody I can play way better." Backlund enjoyed a solid NHL season upon coming back to Calgary, missing 16 games but still managing to post one point every two games on average for the first time in his career. His eight goals and sixteen points were eighth and tenth on a rebuilding Flames team which badly missed the playoffs.

In July 2013, the Flames signed Backlund to a two-year, $3 million contract extension.[15] That season, he recorded the best totals of his career in every offensive category, finishing third on the Flames in goals (18) and fourth in points (39). While the team around him regressed to the worst finish in team history, Backlund asserted himself as one of its top offensive threats.

In 2014–15, Backlund faltered slightly, suffering through injuries and trade rumours; however, the Flames surprisingly skyrocketed up the standings en route to their first playoff berth in six years. Backlund's 10 goals and 27 points were just 11th and 12th on the Flames, but he only played 52 games in the regular season. He continued struggling into the playoffs, only recording 1 goal and 1 assist in 11 games played. However, the one goal Backlund scored was an important one, as it came in overtime of Game 3 of the Flames' second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks to give Calgary their first win past the first round in 13 years.

On 20 June 2015, Backlund signed a three-year, $10.725 million contract extension with Calgary.[16] Put on a line with free-agent acquisition Michael Frolík, Backlund enjoyed his most productive year yet in 2015–16, passing the 20-goal and 40-point plateaus for the first time in his career. His final totals were 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points. While contributing significantly in the offensive zone, Backlund also established himself as a defensive catalyst, forming a tag-team on the penalty kill with Frolík; together, the two of them combined for five short-handed goals in the season. Backlund finished first on the team in the plus/minus column, sporting a +10.

Backlund kept improving in 2016–17, turning into one of the NHL's premier two-way players. At the discretion of new head coach Glen Gulutzan, rookie Matthew Tkachuk was slotted in on the left side of Backlund and Frolík, forming a line dubbed by fans and media as the "3M Line". Matthew, Mikael and Michael formed one of the most potent lines in the NHL in 2016–17, combining for 145 points, the most of any Flames line. Contributing the most offense to that line was Backlund, who once again eclipsed his career-highs by posting 22 goals and 53 points, good for second and third on the Flames. He also played well past the regular season, posting a goal and two assists in four playoff games. However, it was Backlund's defensive work that began to receive recognition around the NHL in 2016–17, as he finished fourth in voting for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded each year to the NHL's best defensive forward.

On 16 February 2018, Backlund signed a six-year contract extension with the Flames.[17]

International playEdit

Medal record
Representing   Sweden
Ice hockey
World Championships
  2018 Denmark
  2010 Germany
  2011 Slovakia
  2014 Belarus
World Junior Championships
  2008 Czech Republic
  2009 Canada
World U18 Junior Championships
  2007 Finland

Backlund played for Sweden at the 2006 World U18 Championships, scoring one goal in three games. In 2007, he led Sweden to a U18 bronze medal when he scored a natural hat-trick in an 8–3 win over Canada in the bronze medal game. He led the tournament in goal-scoring with six goals in six games.[18]

Backlund was a member of the Swedish junior team that won back-to-back silver medals in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, losing to Canada in both instances. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the 2008 semi-final against Russia. The next year, he recorded a two-goal game in the semi-final against Slovakia.

After being eliminated in the second round of the AHL playoffs in 2010, Backlund was invited to play for Sweden's men's team at the World Championships, accepting the offer.

Despite being left off the initial roster, Backlund was invited to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey as a replacement for injured Henrik Zetterberg on 1 September.[19]. Backlund is the captain of the Swedish team, and helped the win the gold at the World Championships in 2018.

Personal lifeEdit

Backlund is charitably active in both Calgary and Sweden. In Calgary, he is a spokesman for both the Special Olympics and the Kid's Cancer Care Foundation. Since 2013, he has donated $150 to the latter charity for each NHL point he records. In Sweden, Backlund participated in the Ride for Hope bicycle race and raised $27,000 for charity. The Flames recognized his charitable efforts by naming him the 2014 recipient of the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award.[20]

Backlund married his fiancée Frida Engström in Sweden on 11 August 2018.[21][22]

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2005–06 Västerås HK J20 25 15 16 31 30
2005–06 Västerås HK Allsv 12 2 2 4 14
2006–07 Västerås HK J20 7 5 4 9 8 5 1 0 1 4
2006–07 Västerås HK Allsv 18 1 2 3 14
2007–08 Västerås HK J20 9 7 6 13 20
2007–08 Västerås HK Allsv 37 9 4 13 24 14 6 3 9 4
2008–09 Västerås HK J20 2 3 2 5 0
2008–09 Västerås HK Allsv 17 4 4 8 39
2008–09 Calgary Flames NHL 1 0 0 0 0
2008–09 Kelowna Rockets WHL 28 12 18 30 26 19 13 10 23 26
2009–10 Abbotsford Heat AHL 54 15 17 32 26 13 1 8 9 14
2009–10 Calgary Flames NHL 23 1 9 10 6
2010–11 Calgary Flames NHL 73 10 15 25 18
2010–11 Abbotsford Heat AHL 1 0 0 0 0
2011–12 Calgary Flames NHL 41 4 7 11 16
2012–13 Västerås HK Allsv 23 12 18 30 22
2012–13 Calgary Flames NHL 32 8 8 16 29
2013–14 Calgary Flames NHL 76 18 21 39 32
2014–15 Calgary Flames NHL 52 10 17 27 14 11 1 1 2 8
2015–16 Calgary Flames NHL 82 21 26 47 28
2016–17 Calgary Flames NHL 81 22 31 53 36 4 1 2 3 0
2017–18 Calgary Flames NHL 82 14 31 45 78
NHL totals 543 108 165 273 257 15 2 3 5 8

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
2006 Sweden U18 6th 3 1 0 1 0
2007 Sweden U18   6 6 1 7 6
2008 Sweden WJC   6 3 4 7 10
2009 Sweden WJC   6 5 2 7 6
2010 Sweden WC   6 0 1 1 2
2011 Sweden WC   9 3 2 5 2
2014 Sweden WC   10 5 3 8 29
2016 Sweden WC 6th 8 3 1 4 4
2016 Sweden WCH   2 0 0 0 0
2018 Sweden WC   10 2 7 9 6
Junior totals 21 15 7 22 22
Senior totals 45 13 14 26 43

Awards and honoursEdit

Award Year
TV-pucken
Most Valuable Player Award 2006 [1]
Sven Tumba Award
Best forward
2006 [1]
Calgary Flames
Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award
CGY – Leadership and community service
2013–14 [20]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Hederspriser i TV-pucken" (PDF) (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  2. ^ "ISS Top 30 for 2007 – Final Ranking". hockeysfuture.com. 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  3. ^ "Flames sign 2007 draft choice Mikael Backlund". calgaryflames.com. 2 May 2008. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2009.
  4. ^ Compton, Brian (2008-08-29). "Nemisz burns bright among Flames prospects". NHL.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  5. ^ a b "Flames prospect Backlund to spend remainder of season in North America". Canadian Press. NHL.com. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  6. ^ Watts, Jesse (ed.). 2013–14 Western Hockey League Official Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 215.
  7. ^ "Backlund Recalled". calgaryflames.com. 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  8. ^ "Mikael Backlund hoping to make impact with Flames this year". The Sports Network. 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  9. ^ MacFarlane, Steve (2011-01-02). "Backlund cool to Heat demotion". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  10. ^ "Mikael Backlund profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  11. ^ Sportak, Randy (2011-11-10). "Flames Backlund to play Friday". QMI Agency. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  12. ^ Gilbertson, Wes (2012-02-11). "Let's hope Backlund injury isn't long term". QMI Agency. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  13. ^ Cruickshank, Scott (2012-10-04). "Backlund signs two-month deal with Swedish Elite League club". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  14. ^ "Flames re-sign Mikael Backlund: NHL free agency roundup". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  15. ^ Sportak, Randy (2013-01-08). "Rejuvenated Backlund eager to show what he can do". Calgary Sun. p. S6.
  16. ^ "Flames ink Backlund to three-year deal". TSN. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  17. ^ "FLAMES SIGN MIKAEL BACKLUND". NHL.com. 16 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  18. ^ "GOAL SCORING LEADERS" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2007-04-22. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  19. ^ Peterson, Torie (1 September 2016). "Backlund added to Swedish World Cup roster". NHL.com. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  20. ^ a b Smith, Sheldon (2014-03-27). "Backlund earns Scurfield trophy". Calgary Herald. p. B10.
  21. ^ Johnson, George (9 August 2018). "ELEVENTH HEAVEN". NHL.com. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  22. ^ @NHLFlames (11 August 2018). "Congrats to Mikael Backlund and @FridaEngstrom11, who are getting married today in Sweden!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External linksEdit