With the Flames facing a big summer of spending ahead of them with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Andrew Mangiapane among those in need of new contracts, there’s an expectation that they will need to free up some money to keep the rest of the core intact. To that end, Hailey Salvian of The Athletic suggests (subscription link) that center Mikael Backlund could be a candidate to be moved this summer. The 33-year-old has seen his production tail off slightly in recent years but he still put up 39 points in 82 regular season games before having a strong showing in the playoffs with eight points in a dozen contests. Backlund has two years remaining at a $5.35MM AAV and with the center market not being particularly deep this summer, there could be some interest in him at some point as a fallback plan as long as they’re not on his partial no-trade list.
Elsewhere around the hockey world:
- Although he has missed three straight practices, Lightning winger Brandon Hagel is expected to play in Wednesday’s Conference Final opener, relays NHL.com’s Corey Long. The 23-year-old has been battling a foot injury since blocking a shot back in the second game of the series against Florida although he has been able to play through it so far. Hagel has been relatively quiet in the playoffs so far with just a goal and three assists in 11 games but he had 25 tallies between Chicago and Tampa Bay this season so as long as he’s able to keep playing through the injury, he’s an offensive threat in their bottom six.
- Oilers center Leon Draisaitl participated in practice today for the first time since sustaining an ankle injury late in the first round, notes Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic (Twitter link). The injury didn’t slow the 26-year-old down (he had 17 points in five games against Calgary last round) but he hadn’t been taking part in practices in an effort to help the injury heal. The fact he returned to the ice today has to be considered a positive sign for Edmonton as they get set to open their series against Colorado on Tuesday.