The Calgary Flames have agreed to terms with RFA center Mikael Backlund on a two-year, $3 million deal, the club announced on Wednesday.
The deal has an average annual cap hit of $1.5 million, up from the $725,000 he made on his last contract.
“Mikael really stepped-up last season and took advantage of the change in direction under a new coaching staff,” Flames GM Jay Feaster said in a statement. “He came into camp in very good shape and also had regained his confidence. He parlayed that into a strong season, and if it wasn’t for his injury we believe he would have progressed even further in his development.”
Backlund, Calgary’s first-round pick (24th overall) at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, had 16 points in 32 games last year, missing time with an MCL sprain.
The Flames have a major lack of depth at center heading into 2013-14, and are hopeful Backlund can fill the gap — but they were also hopeful last year, when they pushed the Swedish forward to “believe in himself.”
Calgary has shown plenty of patience with Backlund through his first four years of professional hockey, but now sounds ready for him to take the next step.
“We need Mikael to be one of our go-to players this year,” Feaster said. “We are excited about watching him continue to evolve and take that step to the next level as a player.”