The Colorado Avalanche contacted the Calgary Flames about trading for veteran two-way center Mikael Backlund earlier this summer, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in his 32 Thoughts written column Tuesday.
Friedman notes these discussions took place before Colorado eventually filled their center vacancies by acquiring Ryan Johansen and the rights to Ross Colton in trades with the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively. Colorado was in need of center depth after it became apparent they weren’t going to keep J.T. Compher, who filled in at second-line center after Nazem Kadri departed during the 2022 free agency period. Compher would sign a rather rich five-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1.
The Flames were likely less open to moving Backlund at the time than they might be now. This was before Backlund said in multiple interviews that his willingness to re-sign with the only NHL organization he’s ever known was contingent on the team’s success this season. He’s just one of many high-end pending UFAs on the Flames roster, a list that also notably includes Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm and Chris Tanev.
Backlund, while he’ll be 35 before next season ends, can still shoulder second-line minutes and would’ve been an ideal fit on a team with as much high-end wing depth in the top six as Colorado. He would’ve gotten to play with at least one out of a pair of extremely formidable two-way wingers in Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin, potentially forming one of the deadliest dual-threat trios in the league. However, his stock is at an all-time high after registering a career-high 56 points last season and averaging over 18 minutes per game. For comparison, they acquired Johansen and Colton for a combined return of the signing rights to Alex Galchenyuk and a second-round pick – it likely would’ve cost much more to pry Backlund away from Calgary.