NHL News

Backlund gets 2-yr. extension, Flames’ captaincy

Two of the bigger questions facing the Calgary Flames were answered Wednesday when they signed center Mikael Backlund to a two-year extension while also naming him their captain.

Re-signing Backlund, 34, to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million annually resolved one of the most prominent issues facing the team entering training camp.

“This is a very special day for my family and I,” said Backlund, the 24th overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft. “Calgary is our home and to know that we will continue my playing career here is important to us.

“… I’m as equally proud to be named the captain of this historic franchise. I’m ready for the responsibility that goes with wearing the ‘C’ and I’m surrounded by a strong leadership group in our locker room that will help us take the next step toward winning the Stanley Cup.”

Backlund is coming off one of the strongest seasons of his career, having scored 19 goals while finishing with a career-high 56 points in 82 games for a Flames team that, despite facing inconsistencies, still finished only two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot in 2022-23.

After signing Backlund, the Flames now have eight players on their roster who are slated to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2023-24 season, including Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington, Elias Lindholm, Christopher Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.

Backlund, who has spent his entire career with the Flames, had been an alternate captain for the past six seasons. He now becomes the 21st captain in team history and the first since defenseman Mark Giordano was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft.

“Mikael Backlund is our captain. He has been our captain for some time,” general manager Craig Conroy said in a statement. “… We look forward to his continued leadership on the ice, in the locker room and in our community.”

Backlund becomes the fifth new captain before the start of the 2023-24 season, joining Brad Marchand (Bruins), Brayden Schenn (Blues), Quinn Hughes (Canucks) and Adam Lowry (Jets).

Anaheim, Arizona, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle are the only teams who have yet to name a captain ahead of the upcoming season.

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