One of the biggest names expected to be on the 2018 free agent market has instead decided to stay put. The Calgary Flames announced this evening that they have re-signed center Mikael Backlund to a six-year, $32.1MM extension. The deal carries a $5.35MM cap hit, while TSN’s Darren Dreger adds that the first two years of the extension carry a $2MM signing bonus, while the final four are purely salary and the deal contains a No-Movement Clause in the first three years and a Modified No-Trade Clause for the last three years.
This appears to be a very favorable deal for the Flames. Backlund, 28, has spent his entire career in Calgary after being drafted out of Sweden in the first round of the 2007 NHL Draft. Backlund has since flown under the radar, quietly becoming one of the top two-way forwards in the NHL through his 519 games for the Flames. He is also capable on offense, with 104 goals and 158 assists for 262 career points thus far, including a career-high 53 last season. He has kept up his high-level play at both ends of the ice in 2017-18, on pace for 48 points and considered a candidate for the Selke Trophy with some truly impressive possession metrics.
Backlund has proven himself to be a perfect fit as a middle-six center for the Flames and will now hold down that role into the foreseeable future. While Brian Burke, Brad Treliving, and company are surely excited about the extension, the news will leave many other teams discouraged. Backlund was ranked seventh in PHR’s Midseason Free Agent Power Rankings – and had the potential to move up – while ranking second behind only John Tavares among centers. With Tavares also expected more likely to resign than go elsewhere, teams with needs down the middle could soon see their top two targets off the board. Backlund was also set to cash in on his prime position in free agency this summer, so his reasonable extension is even further proof that he was happy to stay in Calgary long-term.