In this latest edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, the Flames have signed Mikael Backlund to a contract extension and named him captain. Meanwhile, the Flames have provided an injury update for winger Jakob Pelletier, and it is far from good news. In other news, Dustin Wolf has been listed as one of the top goalie breakout candidates for the 2023-24 season. Let’s discuss all of this in today’s (Sep. 27) Flames News & Rumors column.
Backlund & Flames Get Deal Done; Named Captain
NHL insider Chris Johnston reported yesterday (Sep. 26) that the Flames and Backlund had begun extension talks. Now, just one day later, the Flames have signed Backlund to a two-year, $9 million contract extension. NHL insider Pierre LeBrun also reported that a no-movement clause (NMC) will kick in immediately for the next three seasons (both his current deal and extension), while a no-trade exception (15 teams) kicks in on Jan. 1, 2026. With that, Backlund is the club’s new captain.
Backlund, 34, was one of the many Flames pending unrestricted free agents (UFA) heading into 2023-24, but now they do not need to worry about losing him next summer. Instead, the longtime Flame is staying in Calgary and will continue to be a huge part of their core moving forward.
Backlund has spent the entirety of his 15-year and 908-game NHL career with the Flames, and this contract will continue his excellent tenure there for two more years after this one at least. This is excellent news, as he is still a solid top-six center who plays a steady two-way game. In 82 games last season, he had 19 goals to go along with 56 points.
Pelletier Out Indefinitely for the Flames
The Flames have provided an update on Pelletier, and unfortunately, it is not good news. The young forward is out indefinitely and is set for shoulder surgery next week. Pelletier, 22, sustained his injury Monday night against the Seattle Kraken. Kraken forward Marian Studenic hit Pelletier from behind, which led to the former receiving a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
This is certainly disappointing news for Pelletier. The 2019 first-round pick was generating plenty of buzz leading up to the season as a prime Flames breakout candidate. It is understandable, as he had a strong season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Calgary Wranglers in 2022-23, posting 16 goals and 37 points in 35 games. However, given this latest development, we are likely going to have to wait a while for him to make his season debut.
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With Pelletier now sidelined indefinitely, one has to wonder if this may spark the Flames to bring in another winger before the start of the season. Pelletier was expected to have a bigger role for the Flames in 2023-24, but alas, time will tell what Calgary does in response to this unfortunate news.
Wolf Among Top Goalie Breakout Candidates for 2023-24
The Athletic’s Jesse Granger recently wrote an article discussing the NHL’s top six goalie breakout candidates for the 2023-24 season (from ‘The NHL’s top breakout goalie candidates for 2023-24: Devon Levi, Dustin Wolf and 5 more, The Athletic, 9/26/23). Without much surprise, Wolf was one of the goalies discussed in his piece. The other goalies listed were Devon Levi (Buffalo Sabres), Filip Gustavsson (Minnesota Wild), Akira Schmid (New Jersey Devils), Lukas Dostal (Anaheim Ducks), and Joel Hofer (St. Louis Blues).
When looking at how well Wolf played with the Wranglers this past season, he absolutely is a breakout candidate. In 55 appearances, he had a spectacular 42-10-2 record, a 2.09 goals-against average (GAA), and a .932 save percentage (SV%). This led to him winning his second Baz Bastien Memorial Award in a row as the AHL’s top goaltender.
With Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar both still being on the club, Wolf has an uphill battle making the Flames’ opening night roster. However, when looking at how spectacularly he has played over these last few seasons, the future is very bright for the California native.