On the eve of development camp comes some good news from the Flames, as the club announced today that it has re-signed centre Mikael Backlund to a two-year contract worth $3M, or $1.5M per year.
Backlund, an RFA, avoids salary arbitration with the Flames, who still have six restricted free agents to get under contract, none of whom are eligible for arbitration.
Backlund scored eight goals and 16 points in 32 games for the Flames last season, another in which he struggled to stay healthy, missing 16 games with various injuries.
In the games he did appear in, however, Backlund's play was often one of the lone positives for the Flames. Even when he didn't score, his defensive awareness, improved proficiency in the faceoff circle, and increased strength and confidence in the physical side of his game stuck out for fans. His willingness to sacrifice his body, although it resulted in him fracturing his foot by blocking a shot, also won him brownie points.
On top of that, Backlund faced the toughest competition of all regular Flames forwards with a sub 50% offensive zone start ratio and a Corsi on rate of +2.14, also the best of all the Flames' starting forwards. The team had 27.9 shots for/60 when he was on the ice, which was second only to Curtis Glencross at 28.2.
With Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay both gone and the majority of the Flames' roster made up of rookies and young prospects, it's safe to say that Backlund will likely be driving the bus again next season.