Despite having won seven of their last eight games, the red hot Calgary Flames continue to improve their lineup as the team announced it has taken center Mikael Backlund off injured reserve, while recalling Kerby Rychel, the leading scorer on the Stockton Heat. The team also sent Andrew Mangiapane and goaltender Jon Gillies back to the AHL.
Backlund has been on IR since Dec. 8 and has missed four games. The 29-year-old has five goals and 17 points in 29 games this season, but is a key figure centering the team’s second line. Veteran Derek Ryan has been filling in for him, but the infusion of Backlund should invigorate a tired team who is playing the second game of a back-to-back set. The team also brought in Rychel, who has been extremely effective in Stockton where he has already tallied 13 goals and 21 points in 25 games this season. He was acquired in an offseason trade with Montreal for Hunter Shinkaruk. Rychel made four appearances with the Canadiens last season scoring one goal and an assist.
With the healthy return of Mike Smith in goal who is expected to serve as a backup Sunday, the team had no use for Gillies, who just served as a backup Saturday. Gillies hasn’t made an appearance for Calgary this year. Mangiapane was recalled on Nov. 30 and has appeared in seven games since then, but hasn’t gotten on the scoreboard. The 22-year-old had seven goals and seven assists in Stockton.