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Backlund thrilled to be back in Calgary

Thursday, 07.5.2012 / 3:37 PM MT / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Backlund thrilled to be back in Calgary

CALGARY, AB -- Anyone who follows Mikael Backlund on Twitter knows just how much the 23 year-old loves playing in Calgary and when the Flames announced they had re-signed the forward to a one-year deal, he wasted no time in expressing his elation via social media.

"So excited for the new deal with the @NHLFlames! Best city, fans and organization. Looking forward to a new change to make a statement in the NHL."

The Vasteras, SWE native is coming off a disappointing season that saw him dress for just 41 games due to a broken finger and upper body injury. He managed four goals and 11 points in the 2011-12 campaign and was never able to solidify his role on the team due to inconsistency.

"I had a tough year," he acknowledged. "I want to show them that I can do better. If the Flames would have offered more than a one-year deal I would have taken it but they’re not sure about me either. It’s good to get a one-year deal and both sides are happy with it."

Last year, Backlund was tentatively penciled in as the team's top line center heading into training camp after a strong performance in the 2010-11 campaign and the IIHF World Hockey Championships with Team Sweden. There were nights he did center Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay but he wasn't able to maintain the level of consistency needed to stay in that position.

While expectations are tempered going into this season, the organization still believes Backlund can play a top-six role for the club.

"Mikael has an opportunity to step-up and attempt to secure a top two-line center position with our club,” General Manager Jay Feaster said. "He is a very talented player who skates well, has excellent vision and possesses a strong skill set.

"As we have discussed with him, Mikael needs to work on his consistency and his focus in order to break through in a top-six role and start to define his role on our team. We are excited about the level of competition that should exist in camp this fall and we expect Mikael to be in the thick of those battles."

When he arrives at camp in September, he'll be greeted by some new faces. Over the course of the last few months, the Flames have signed KHL standout Roman Cervenka, defenceman Dennis Wideman and forward Jiri Hudler.

Backlund feels these additions, along with re-signing the likes of Cory Sarich, Lee Stempniak, Blair Jones and Blake Comeau, will give the Flames the boost needed to make a long postseason run.

"We have some new signings and I’m really excited about that and bringing back some players from last year. I’m really excited for what the team looks like this season.

"We’ve added some skill which we were missing the last couple of years but I’m really excited about the team and looking forward to having the chance to making the playoffs.”

New head coach Bob Hartley has already spoken to Backlund about what to expect in training camp this fall and he is looking forward to working with the new coaching staff.

"Bob has been winning everywhere he has coached. He called me and it sounded really good, he was really excited and I’m very excited to meet him and start working for him."