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With next to nothing happening in the hockey world this month, I thought it'd be as good of a time as any to profile members of the Calgary Flames.
I'll be commenting on their performances last season as well as projected role and expectations moving forward. I kicked things off with Elias Lindholm and followed things up with Noah Hanifin.
Today we're going to take a close look at Mikael Backlund.
77 games played, 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists), 17:34 average time on ice
2.04 points/60, +2.13 CF% Rel, +8.35 GF% Rel, +.36 xGF% Rel, 1.019 PDO
Backlund's counting totals didn't pop off the page but you could argue 2018-19 was his best offensive season yet. At least at 5v5. He recorded 16 goals, 31 primary points, and 37 total points. All were career highs. His efficiency was through the roof as well. Backlund averaged .88 goals/60, 2.04 points/60, and 9.34 chances/60. Again, all career highs. He produced at that high clip and, alongside Matthew Tkachuk/Michael Frolik, once again posted fantastic underlying numbers across the board despite playing top competition on a nightly basis. He was one of the better two-way centers in the league.
At 5v5 Backlund was a more efficient point producer than an abundance of stars, including Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Jamie Benn, Brock Boeser, and Gabriel Landeskog.
Backlund is almost certainly going to continue being used in the same role he's played, and excelled in, for the last handful of years. While Frolik *could* be heading out the door, and Backlund is now on the wrong side of 30, I'd bet on another 45-50 point season where Backlund also drives play and provides plus-defense in all situations. Even if age catches up with him a tad, I think Tkachuk is more than capable of propping him up a bit and mitigating that.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
2019 player profile: Noah Hanifin
2019 player profile: Elias Lindholm
Top-5 wingers in the Western Conference?
Top-5 centers in the Western Conference?
Are the Flames eying Alex Petrovic?
Flames (smartly) buyout Michael Stone
Taking stock of the Pacific Division
On the Milan Lucic trade