The Colorado Avalanche, in their quest to bolster their center depth earlier this summer, explored the possibility of acquiring veteran two-way center Mikael Backlund from the Calgary Flames. Before adding Ryan Johansen, the team apparently chatted with the Flames, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest “32 Thoughts” column.
“Colorado took a run at Backlund, before landing Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen,’ Friedman wrote. The goal was to fortify their center position, especially after it became evident that J.T. Compher, who had filled in as the second-line center was unlikely to remain with the team. Compher eventually signed a substantial five-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1. Meanwhile, Backlund’s issues with the way things were going in Calgary under Darryl Sutter were quite public.
The Flames may not have wanted to part with Backlund (and likely still don’t), but Backlund’s statements in multiple interviews where he tied his willingness to re-sign with the Flames to the team’s success in the upcoming season meant that there might have been an opportunity for Colorado. They decided to kick tires to see if Calgary was open to the idea.
Backlund’s skill set would have made him an ideal fit for a team like the Avalanche, which boasts considerable top-six wing depth. He likely would have been used alongside players like Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin where the trio could have been a formidable two-way line.
But, it probably would have cost the Avalanche a lot more in a trade with the Flames than they ultimately gave up in the deal with Nashville.
Backlund More Open to Sticking Around with Flames
Backlund is just one among several high-profile pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on the Flames’ roster, and many of them had displayed what appeared to be a desire to leave at the end of their expiring contracts. While the likes of Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, and Chris Tanev haven’t been as quick to maneuver their way out since those initial comments, it makes sense the Avs thought there might he been something there worth exploring.
While the trade discussions with the Flames did not culminate in a deal, they shed light on the Avalanche’s efforts to strengthen their roster during the offseason, demonstrating their commitment to addressing positional needs and pursuing top-tier talent.
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