Tag: Mikael Backlund


Calgary Flames ’15-16 Outlook


For the most part, there should be optimism in Cowtown.

After a great ’14-15 campaign in which they exceeded all expectations, the Flames had themselves an equally successful summer. GM Brad Treliving struck the perfect chord of adding to his upstart team without sacrificing youth or prospects; Dougie Hamilton came aboard at the expense of three draft picks while Michael Frolik joined in free agency, much like Karri Ramo, who was brought back to recreate last year’s successful goalie tandem with Jonas Hiller.

The Flames didn’t lose much, either.

Spare veteran parts like Raphael Diaz, David Schlemko and Brian McGrattan walked in free agency, and with good reason; the postseason emergence of youngsters like Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett and Tyler Wotherspoon made the older guys expendable.

The real excitement in Calgary, though, is the prospect of putting everything together. Up front, the dynamic trio of Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler will be back for another go-round, only this time they’ll have depth behind them: Frolik, a full season of Bennett, a full season of Mikael Backlund (remember, he missed 30 games last season) and a real wildcard in Ferland, who showed flashes of being a havoc-wreaking power forward in the playoffs.

On defense? Imagine if that all comes together too. Adding Hamilton, getting Giordano back, building off the excellent playoffs from T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell — the Flames could have one of the better bluelines in the Western Conference.

So yes, Calgary certainly has momentum heading into ’15-16, but momentum can be a fickle thing. Especially when you’re trying to carry it from one year to the next.

What the Flames won’t have going for them is the element of surprise. It’s fair to say they snuck up on some few opponents last year, especially during their 17-8-2 start, but that’s unlikely to happen again. They’re a tough out, and the rest of the NHL now knows it. Upon being introduced to the Calgary media in July, Frolik, the former Winnipeg Jet, acknowledged part of his reason for signing in Calgary was recognizing how good the team was — and will be.

“With me and Dougie, I think that [expectations are] just going to be higher and higher,” he explained, per the Herald. “With what the guys did last year, the goal is for sure to make the playoffs.”

Calgary will also likely need to improve on its puck possession and shot-based metrics — we touched on that earlier today — but those improvements have a good chance of happening thanks to the new roster additions, and the maturation of incumbent youngsters.

Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why the organization’s already thinking about another boisterous postseason in front of the Sea of Red.

“Players want to be in a good situation, they want to have a chance to win,” Treliving said. “In the playoffs, seeing the atmosphere in the building, seeing this city come alive, seeing the support and the passion that our fans have, makes players excited.”

Looking to make the leap: Sam Bennett

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Three

While some might argue Sam Bennett already made “the leap,” it’s important to remember he only played 12 games last year — 11 of which came in the playoffs.

So more of a hop than a leap, really.

Which is why we’re profiling the 19-year-old here. For all the promise Bennett showed in ’14-15 — three postseason goals, boundless energy, quality net-front presence — this is the year where he’ll try to establish himself as a full-time NHLer because, despite that stellar spring cameo, Bennett isn’t guaranteed a roster spot this fall.

“It’s still the NHL,” Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy told NHL.com in July. “There are no givens. You play bad in training camp, and that’s not good.

“[Bennett’s] mindset is he’s going to do this and this and this, but you just don’t want to feel like it’s going to be given. You want him to know he has to come and earn it. It’s earned, not given.”

Taken fourth overall by Calgary in 2014, Bennett really hasn’t played much hockey in the last 12 months. A torn labrum in his left shoulder limited him to 15 games with OHL Kingston last year, and from there he transitioned straight his 12-game stint with Calgary. Heck, Bennett was green enough to take part in the Flames’ prospect development camp last month, which further illustrated just how inexperienced he is.

“I’m still only 19 years old,” he explained. “I think there is tons that I still need to learn.”

It’s worth noting that, after last year’s impressive showing, the Flames know the stakes have been raised. Prized offseason acquisitions Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik have raised expectations and, at center, Bennett will be in tough for minutes with the likes of Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Josh Jooris and Matt Stajan — all of whom are older, and more experienced.

That said, Bennett thinks what he showed in the postseason is proof he’s ready for a full-time gig.

“I feel like I proved myself in the playoffs,” Bennett said. “Obviously it’s not going to change the way I act or anything.

“I’m still going to work as hard as I can to make this team again.”

It’s Calgary Flames day at PHT

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Four

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Calgary Flames.

Calgary’s 2014-15 campaign could be summed up with one word:


Heading into the season with low expectations and riding a five-year playoff drought, the Flames surprised everyone not just by making the postseason — squeezing out the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in the process — but also winning their first series in 11 years. Impressively, Calgary did this without the services of captain and top defenseman Mark Giordano, who was lost for the year in late February with a torn biceps.

Individuals exceeded expectations as well.

Bob Hartley, in the last year of his contract, earned himself a two-year extension and then won the Jack Adams as coach of the year. Jiri Hudler smashed his career-high in points, with 76, and went on to capture the Lady Byng. Johnny Gaudreau, who wasn’t even on Bovada’s preseason list of Calder favorites, finished as one of three finalists for rookie of the year.

So, needless to say… it was a pretty stellar year in Cowtown.

Off-season recap

GM Brad Treliving’s second summer in Calgary was by far his most exciting. His boldest move, no question, was orchestrating the blockbuster deal that saw ex-Bruin Dougie Hamilton come aboard for a package of draft picks; Treliving then wasted little time locking up the 22-year-old blueliner, inking him to a six-year, $34.5 million deal.

In free agency, Treliving continued to make significant moves. Former Winnipeg forward Michael Frolik was brought aboard for five years at $21.5 million, and the club opted to bring back goalie Karri Ramo for another year in tandem with Jonas Hiller.

The Flames also re-upped with a few of their quality RFAs — Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma, Josh Jooris, Paul Byron — and might’ve scored the steal of the draft when Swedish d-man Oliver Kylington, who some had pegged as a potential first-rounder, slipped to them at No. 60.

The only thing Treliving hasn’t done yet, it seems, is sign off on his “No. 1 priority” for the summer — an extension for Giordano. The veteran d-man still has a year left on his deal, so there doesn’t appear to be any rush, but it is worth noting that reports suggested Giordano’s initial ask was for a whopping $9 million per season.

If those contract talks go sideways, they could take the shine off what’s been an otherwise sparkling summer.

Flames make another splash, sign Frolik to five-year, $21.5M deal

Winnipeg Jets v San Jose Sharks

Calgary GM Brad Treliving made another big move on Wednesday, signing versatile forward Michael Frolik to a five-year, $21.5 million deal on the first day of free agency.

The deal carries a $4.3 million average annual cap hit, up from the $3.3M Frolik made last year with Winnipeg. The Czech winger been with the Jets for each of the last two seasons and has enjoyed good success, first setting a career high in points in 2013-14 (with 42), then matching that total last year.

Frolik also averaged a career-best 17:20 TOI per night last year, playing on both the penalty kill and power play.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff acknowledged prior to the draft that Winnipeg wanted to keep Frolik, but that the lure of big money in free agency made it difficult.

“It’s just a matter of whether there is going to be a fit on the contractual side of things,” Cheveldayoff said. “He’s been with us, he’s part of our family, he knows what we bring to the table, we know what he brings to the table.”

With Calgary, Frolik will join a talented top-six forward group that includes Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett. The Frolik deal also comes just 24 hours after Treliving inked Dougie Hamilton — Calgary’s big pickup at the draft — to a six-year, $34.5 million contract extension.

Calgary locks up RFA Mikael Backlund

Mikael Backlund

The Flames announced that they have signed Mikael Backlund to an extension.

Calgary didn’t provide didn’t provide contract details, but it’s reportedly a three-year deal worth roughly $10.7 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Roger Millions.

He would have become a restricted free agent this summer after completing his two-year, $3 million contract. By inking him to a three-year deal, Calgary has also gotten his first two seasons of UFA eligibility.

The 26-year-old center is coming off of a trying campaign as he missed roughly two months due to an abdominal injury that required surgery. When he was healthy he recorded 10 goals and 27 points in 52 contests. He also averaged 17:44 minutes per game, including time in both power play and shorthanded situations.

Since being taken with the 24th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, he has scored 51 goals and 128 points in 298 career NHL games.

The Flames still have a number of restricted free agents to deal with this summer, including Lance Bouma and Paul Byron.