MIKAEL BACKLUND Center Vasteras (Sweden) 6-0, 194 pounds Central Scouting Final Ranking: No. 2 (European skater)
A strong center with excellent speed, Backlund was a pre-season top five pick before much of his season was interrupted due to a knee injury. But Backlund’s stock remains high due to his late season performance in the Under-18 Championships.
Playing six games for Sweden at the Under-18, Backlund scored a tournament-high six goals and added an assist while helping his country to a bronze medal.
“He really came on and had a good Under-18,” said Panther director of scouting Scott Luce. “He dropped a bit (in the final rankings), but he could be a really good NHL player.”
Central Scouting calls Backlund a smart center with soft hands and high-end passing ability. Backlund “sees the ice well…has good hockey sense…has a strong shot and a nose for the net.”
No one claims Backlund to be another Peter Forsberg, but he’s excellent on the power play and could blossom into a potential star.