USATSI_8566847_154158418_lowresThe Calgary Flames have locked up forward Mikael Backlund, inking him to a three year deal worth $10.725 million. That’s an average annual value of $3.575 million, for those scoring at home.

This is a pretty nice reward for the 26-year-old Swede and a pretty nice pickup for the Calgary Flames. Backlund had a productive year with 27 points in 52 games, plus he exceled on the penalty kill and had good possession numbers.

Backlund’s CF (Corsi) in the five-on-five was 46.44 percent, which puts him up there in the upper crust of active Flames. By comparison, Mark Giordano’s CF percentage at five-on-five was 49.11.

Backlund had been demoted to the fourth line for periods of time, but he worked his way back up through the depth chart and saw action in the top six. Backlund is now a permanent fixture in Calgary’s top lines and should remain there if his play continues. General manager Brad Treliving even considers him part of the “core.”

The Flames are hoping to build on the 2014-2015 season and have to be hoping that Backlund’s a big part of a post-season run. The deal secures a depth player without doing any financial harm, making it a relatively risk-free investment for the club.

“I had a feeling they wanted to keep me, and I love everything about Calgary – the fans, the organization, the team,” Backlund said Saturday. “And right away when I started to think about a contract, I wanted a longer deal – three or four years – to stick around. The team’s on the right path, and I think we’re going to have a winning team.”

“I really like how this starts to set up our middle moving forward – it’s so critical,” said Treliving. “I know people get focused on lines one, two or three, but this is a good player who plays a really important position on both sides of special teams. He can generate offence, but…has embraced playing against top players in a defending role…”

Like the GM said, the Flames have a pretty sturdy group of centres to work with. Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and Matt Stajan are also part of the action and that spells trouble for the opposition. The core is also locked in for the next few seasons, so that could mean it’s time to start looking at Calgary as a considerable playoff force.

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