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Backlund staying

Talented Swede will play in North America for remainder of the season

Tuesday, 06.01.2009 / 11:50 PM / News
By Mike Board  - CF.com Digital Content Director
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Backlund staying
Mikael Backlund, a first round pick and one of the Calgary Flames top prospects, will stay in North America for the remainder of the hockey season, forgoing the rest of his season in the Swedish Elite League.
Mikale Backlund

The only remaining question is where he will play. There are three choices being considered: the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, who hold his junior rights; the Quad City Flames, Calgary's top affiliate in the American Hockey League or with the big club here in Calgary.The decision is going to be up to the Flames and general manager Darryl Sutter.

"I'm excited to be here. It will be good for me," said Backlund, 19, who just completed a stint with Team Sweden in the World Junior Championships in Ottawa.

"We haven't decided where I will play. I'm going to relax here for a couple of days. It will be Darryl's decision."

Backlund could join the Rockets but he must be signed by the Rockets by the WHL trade deadline this Saturday.

Backlund, the Flames first round pick in 2007, played against Canada for the gold medal on Monday and, for the second year in a row, Canada prevailed.

"It was a good tournament. I wanted to have a gold medal. It was tough to lose but Canada played very well," he said.

The talented Backlund has been playing for Vasteras in the second tier of the Swedish Elite League. He has four goals and four assists in 17 games this season.

"I don't know why it didn't work out," he said between periods of the Flames-Sharks game at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday. "Some games I played well, some games I played bad."

Backlund is now looking forward to playing a lot of hockey wherever he ends up in North America.

"I am glad they (the Flames) wanted me to cme here," he said. "It's much more games here. You skate almost every day, so it will be good. I have to learn to be good every game. The biggest thing here is the rink size. That makes the game more intense."