Calgary Flames 11 days until the season starts: #11 Mikael Backlund

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 17: Mikael Backlund
CALGARY, AB - APRIL 17: Mikael Backlund /

There’s only a week and a half left until the regular season starts up again! With just 11 days left, let’s look at a Calgary Flames player with that number.

Since the start of August, we’re counting down the number of days left until the regular season starts up again! Every day until the start of the season, we’ll be talking about a Calgary Flames player whose number correlates with how many days there are left.

Yesterday, we talked about a player and it made me cry. With 12 days, I’m sure you can guess who that was. But it was #12 Jarome Iginla.

With just 11 days left, let’s look at a player who’s been somewhat underrated for most of his career so far. Let’s look at #11 Mikael Backlund.

Related Story: 12 days until the season starts - #12 Jarome Iginla

Who is Mikael Backlund?

Name: Mikael Backlund

Birthplace: Vasteras, Sweden

Position: C

Shoots: Left

Birthdate: 1989-05-17

Height: 6’0” / 183 cm

Weight: 89 kg / 196 lbs

Drafted by: Calgary Flames, 24th overall 2007

Stats with the Calgary Flames, regular season:

Before being drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2007, Mikael Backlund spend his junior years at home in Sweden playing with different junior-level teams there. That year, he also played with Team Sweden at the U18 World Juniors before being drafted. They won the bronze medal that year. Backlund had six goals and seven points in six games. He led all skaters in goals at the tournament.

The following year, he played with the regular IIHF World Juniors. He had three goals and seven points at the tournament where Sweden won the silver medal.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

Backlund remained in Sweden and signed an ELC with the Flames after that season, the 2007-08 season. He still continued to play in Sweden for that season. And he played internationally again with the World Juniors in 2009, where he had five goals and seven points in six games. Sweden again won the silver medal. He was named as a top three player on Team Sweden.

The Flames were impressed and wanted to give him his first taste at pro life after the tournament ended. He played his first NHL game in January of 2009, but he didn’t have any points. The Flames then assigned him to the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL where he posted 12 goals and 30 points in 28 games. In the playoffs, he had 13 goals and 23 points in 19 games. He was tied in first for most goals in the playoffs among all skaters, and his team won the Ed Chynoweth Cup that year.

The following year, he split his time between the Calgary Flames and their farm-team at the time, the Abbotsford Heat. He also continued to play internationally and played at the World Championship in 2010 and 2011. He won a bronze medal and a silver medal.

In 2010-11, he played almost a full-season with the Flames. He had 10 goals and 25 points in 72 regular season games. The following year, he again got a chance at a full-time role with the Flames. And he was even going to be the top-center on the team – alongside Jarome Iginla. However, injuries got the best of him and his season was cut short.

The following years, Backlund kept improving year after year and he was finally starting to gain the praise he rightfully deserves over the last year-two years. This past season, he had a breakout year, posting a career high in goals (22), assists (31), and points (53). Backlund was third in points and goals among Flames skaters.

Him, alongside Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk, being dubbed the “3M line” was definitely the Flames most consistent line all season long. And he was a factor in young Tkachuk having a successful rookie season.

Related Story: Mikael Backlund should be a Selke finalist

But something that impresses hockey fans is his two-way play. He’s the Flames best two-way center, and him and Frolik on the penalty-kill together were a dynamic duo. The entire team was calling him “Mikael Selke” this year. But unfortunately, he didn’t end up being a runner-up for the Selke trophy. He was fourth overall, though! Hopefully we’ll see him at the NHL awards next year.

Next: Mikael Backlund's case for the non-Olympics

While NHL players won’t be allowed to go to the Olympics this upcoming winter, I’m confident that he still would have made it. He’s had an impressive last few years, and there’s still a lot of fuel in the engine with him.