Flames forwards Brett Sutter and Mikael Backlund
rejoined the Abbotsford Heat just in time for the North Division Semi-Finals of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Backlund played 23 games this season with the Calgary Flames while Sutter was called up for 10. Each player has performed well at the NHL level and management and coaching staff will keep a close eye on their development throughout the AHL playoffs.
“Mikael has played extremely well. He’s going to be a player that’s going to get a tremendous opportunity next year,” explained Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “He’s had a chance to get some experience in the minors to grow and mature as a player and has now had a chance to play at the NHL level and proven he can do it. He now gets to go back to Abbotsford to get a chance to play in the playoffs so he’ll get to see that part of it too.”
Backlund, a native of Vasteras, Sweden, scored his first NHL goal and added nine assists with the Flames. He dressed in 54 games with the Heat this year earning 15 goals, 17 assists for 32 points. He was named as the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for February 21-28.
|GET CALDER PLAYOFF TICKETS |
|Tickets for Games 3 (Monday April 19) and 4 (Wednesday April 21) of the North Division Semi Final between the Heat and the Americans are on sale right now! Call 1-877-452-HEAT or visit www.abbotsfordheat.com |
Game 5, if necessary is Friday April 23, also in Abbotsford
“I started off struggling in Abbotsford but after Christmas I got better and better,” said Backlund. “Then I got called up and since then I’ve been feeling really good. I got sent down to AHL during Olympic break and I had more confidence because of the level of play in the NHL. I think that will help me a lot having been up here (in Calgary) to go back to Abbotsford again. “
Backlund picked up his first point of the playoffs Saturday in Game 2 of the Rochester series on the lone goal scored by the Heat. He says he doesn’t want to change much. He just has to keep playing the same game as he did up in Calgary.
“He can help our hockey team," Sutter predicted. “He’s got skill and is a very intelligent player. He’s quick and can make plays and you need that in today’s game. There are high expectations for him and rightly so. He’s a good player and a great kid.”
Brett Sutter, the son of Flames general manager Darryl, was called up and appeared in 10 games for the Flames and was used primarily in a penalty-killing role while averaging over eight minutes of ice time. Although he failed to register any points, coach Brent Sutter says he did the job they needed him to do and see the potential in the future.
“Brett has come in and filled a hole for us,” Sutter said. “He’s played a role that we needed him to play. We lost guys due to injury here in the last month or so that are very important players on our hockey team as far as the roles they filled. We lost three top penalty killers so we needed someone that could kill penalties for us and give us some quality minutes and Brett has done that.”
I'm a hard-working straight-line player. I just want to be an energy guy, a solid defensive guy who can kill penalties and create energy for the team.
- Flames prospect Brett Sutter
Despite the disappointing finish to the Flames season, Brett Sutter feels that the mood in the Flames dressing room over the past couple weeks will in fact benefit him as he joins the Abbotsford Heat for the playoffs.
“It was a tough situation, things didn’t turn out the way that we wanted,” Brett said. “At the same time, I learned a lot and I think there is a lot I can take back to Abbotsford for the playoffs. It’s been playoff atmosphere here for the last three weeks or a month that I’ve been here so I’m hoping I can take that energy and intensity into the playoffs.”