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Flames draft Swedish forward in Round 1

Friday, 22.06.2007 / 8:34 PM / News
calgaryflames.com staff
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Flames draft Swedish forward in Round 1
The Calgary Flames got their man in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft on Friday.

The Skinny on Mikael Backlund

Notes and anecdotes on the Calgary Flames first round draft pick, Mikael Backlund, at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Born: Vasteras, Sweden, March 17, 1989
Height: 6 ' 1"
Weight: 198 pounds

Stats
Sea Team League GP G A P PIM
06/07 Vasteras SWE-2 41 20 26 46 60
Central Scouting says:
A smart centre with excellent speed...has soft hands and a high-end passing ability...sees the ice well and has good hockey sense...has a strong shot and a nose for the net...did not play a lot this season because of a knee injury...helped Team Sweden to a bronze medal at the 2007 Under-18 World Championships, defeating Canada 8-3...was the leading goal-scorer (7) at the Under-18 Championships...was named most valuable player at the 2006 Mac's Midget Tournament.

He is big. He is fast. He can pass. He can score. And he has heart.  All traits that general manager Darryl Sutter wants in a player.

His name is Mikael Backlund.

Some might think it a surprise that the player is from Sweden and not the Western Hockey League.

"I like the Swedes," said a smiling Sutter on TSN. "He is a very talented kid. We were fortunate to get him where we did."

The Flames were able to trade down to the 24th overall pick from the 18th pick to draft  the Swedish centre while gaining a third round pick in the draft after making a deal with the St. Louis Blues.

Backlund is familiar with Calgary -- he played in the 2006 Mac's Midget Tournament, winning most valuable player honours.

Backlund said he spoke with Sutter on Thursday about a knee injury that he suffered this season that limited his playing time.

Mikael Backlund Scouting Video: 700K

"I told him that I am 100 per cent and that I can play hockey without pain," said Backlund.

Asked about whether or not he would be playing in Calgary next season, Backlund smiled and said: "We'll have to wait and see."

Backlund was rated the No. 2 European skater by Central Scouting.

The Flames had a group of 21 players they favoured in the first round, said head scout Tod Button. They were able to make a deal and get an extra pick, a third round choice from St. Louis, because they had a number of players remaining on their list. Knowing they would get one of the players they wanted, along with a draft pick, was an easy decision at the table.

The Flames also acquired a draft pick in a trade that brought defenceman Adrian Aucoin into the Flames fold on Friday. They began the day with five picks but finished with seven picks.

Button said the Flames liked Backlund because of his two-way play and because he has heart.

"We consider will a skill and he has will," said Button. "He's a good passer. He is responsible and helps his wingers. He is a player who can play at both ends of the ice. We project hime as a solid two-way player."

Backlund said he will now return to Sweden to begin preparing for next season.

"I like going to Calgary. It's nice now to know which team I belong to. Now I will go home and train for the summer," said Backlund.