Mikael Backlund is one of the Flames best players.
On a season where the Flames were more or less a write-off by November, Backs was a bright spot. He reached careers highs in his scoring (21-26-47 beating previous career highs of 18-21-39 in 2013-14) and also managed to play the first 82 game season of his NHL career, which may account for his point totals (probably does).
In 2013-14 he took a career high in shots (178) but managed a way above above League average shooting percentage of 10.1%. This last season, he made fewer shots, (23 less or 155) but shot 13.1%. Typically, he's been a league average shooter, sometimes rising above League average, sometimes falling below.
This season, aside from his 4 shorthanded points (thank you Frolik!), Backlund has shown excellent ability in the defensive, unsexy, side of being a Center.
By the numbers:
Goals For percentage? 56.1% Relative to his team? +12.1%. Corsi For percentage? 52.3%. Relative to his team? +5%. He played the 3rd most 5v5 minutes (behind Monny and Gaudreau), had the highest GF%, had the highest GF%Rel, had the highest 5v5 Corsi, had the highest Corsi relative to his team mates. His ZS% was a 49.1%. Which, admittedly was closer to the middle of the pack (what Hartley was thinking with Bouma/Bollig/Stajan, I'll never know) but still these are excellent results.
So now what? Do I complain that he didn't have more difficult zone starts? Do I complain that a middle six defensive forward didn't score 80 points? Do I complain that he has a terrible contract? Do I complain that he bumped last season's golden child Sam Bennett down the center depth chart? I can't say any of these things, so I give him an A. I really have no choice.
BizzleJ - B
Mikael Backlund is one of those players that seems to always be on the ice. Obviously that's not the case but when I am watching a game I hear his name a lot. He is skating hard, making plays and throwing the odd bodycheck here and there. Sure his 47 points in 82 games is nothing to write home about, but he has consistently averaged about a point every two games. He did set a career high in hits this past season but that is likely because this was the first and only season where he played in all 82 games. Backlund is a great player that does great things on and off the ice. I have given him a B grade.
FlamesMM - A
Mikael Backlund is a player that has a rare attribute. He has shown the ability to consistently make the players around him better as evidenced by career years from Lance Bouma and Joe Colborne. Backlund provides the opportunity for other centres such as Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett to focus on the offensive side of the game because they know they can rely on Backlund to take care of the defensive side of the game when he is on the ice. This coupled with Backlund setting a new career high in points this past season shows that he can succeed on both ends of the ice. A.