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Calgary Flames

Backlund Leaves Door Open To Re-Sign But Can Flames Risk It?



Mikael Backlund hasn’t closed the door on re-signing with the Calgary Flames, but he has now verbally shared that it’s not a decision that will be made during this season.  

The problem with that is GM Craig Conroy has a half-dozen of impending unrestricted free agents who may all feel the same way, or vice versa, and there is a lot of risk involved in keeping them all on the roster heading into the season.  

Elias Lindholm has been staring at a long-term, high-dollar contract extension offer for weeks. That’s believed to be in the eight-year, $70M range. The fact he hasn’t signed it speaks volumes. Backlund is saying the same thing – just more directly.  

The 34-year-old centre who is coming off a career best in points and has played his entire career with the Calgary Flames is in wait-and-see mode based on recent comments he made back home in Sweden.  

“We are having a great time in Calgary, so it was a very difficult decision and we thought about it for a long time,” Backlund told Swedish magazine VLT last week. “There are no closed doors to extend later but last season was tough. A lot has happened in the last year. I feel that I want to wait and see.” 

Keep in mind, it has been translated and may not be verbatim.  

“I’m ready to come back and play the season and if it goes great, I might want to extend after the season,” Backlund continued. “If it doesn’t go well, we’ll see what happens.” 

Lindholm, Backlund and defencemen Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev are all set to become UFAs next July. Having been stung by former Flames franchise superstar Johnny Gaudreau – who walked away at the 11th hour with no compensation coming back to the Calgary Flames – Conroy has expressed a desire to have more clarity and better asset control.  

They’re attempting to trade Hanifin, and have been listening on offers for Backlund and Lindholm, but haven’t liked the deals being offered. They haven’t prioritized Zadorov and Tanev to this point, but the longer these decisions take to make, the more risk rests with Conroy.  

If they hang on to all six to start the season, there is a chance one or more could be injured during the season and the Flames would lose the opportunity to trade them before the deadline. A best-case scenario from a front office perspective would be all of them returning and the Flames battling for the Pacific Division title and perhaps convincing their most coveted free agents to stick around before they’re forced to trade them away.  

Then again, the division title and a second-round playoff appearance wasn’t enough to convince Gaudreau he should stay. And with all the picks and prospects these six free agents could fetch on the open market, many fans are hoping for more of a rebuild than a re-run, despite some of the recent positivity.

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