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Backman’s two-way play leaves big impression

Published Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 5:04 p.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Mattias Backman

Mattias Backman (Credit: lhc.eu)

Mattias Backman surprised pretty much everybody with his impressive play at the IIHF world junior championship.

The 19-year-old Detroit Red Wings fifth-round draft choice started the tournament as a spare defenseman for an unheralded Swedish entry and ended it earlier this month logging heavy late-game minutes for the gold-medal winning squad.

“He showed the coaches he could play and they went with him — he played more and more,” said Mark Leach, part of a contingent of Red Wings scouts that attended the tournament in Calgary and Edmonton.

“He gained confidence as the tournament went on, he gained the confidence of the coaches, and he achieved great success.”

The 6-foot-2 170-pounder finished the tournament with three assists, 14 shots and a plus-5 rating in six games.

Backman, who the Red Wings nabbed 146th overall in last summer’s draft, played a mature two-way game, showcasing impressive mobility and smarts.

“The thing we liked most is that his skating ability is very, very good, and he’s always skating with his head up and making the right play at the right time and not over-handling it,” Leach said. “His decision-making under pressure was very good.”

Not only were Backman’s smooth skating and puck-moving ability on full display, he also made an impression with strong play in his own zone.

“He played a very solid and steady game defensively and he’s always in the right position at the right time,” Leach said. “He’s not a heavy banging defenseman but he can separate his man from the puck. He just puts himself in the right position and makes people go into bad areas.”

Backman, who projects as a No. 4 or 5 defenseman at the NHL level, has also impressed as a Swedish Elite League rookie with Linkoping this season. He has a goal and five assists along with a plus-5 rating in 28 games, averaging almost 16 minutes a night.

NOTES: Defenseman Ryan Sproul (Sault-Ste Marie, OHL) is expected to be out until mid-to-late February at the earliest with a fractured jaw after taking a puck in the face on Dec. 28. “He’s not able to talk right now and he’s probably in a lot more pain than he’s letting on,” Richard Rotenberg, the Greyhounds’ athletic therapist, told the Sault Star earlier this month. “Hopefully, within the next couple of weeks he’ll be able to begin eating again.” Sproul was having a tremendous season at the time of the injury, with 26 points a team-leading plus-17 … Forward Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, Swedish Elite League) snapped out of a mid-season slumber this week with a hat trick to account for all of his team’s offense in a 3-1 win over Lulea. He had scored just two goals in 18 previous games … Defenseman Travis Ehrhardt (Grand Rapids, AHL) returned to action this week after sitting out since October with a shoulder injury.

Following is this week’s statistical report.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids PRO AHL 36 9 8 18 7 0 84
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids PRO AHL 31 6 6 12 27 -1 41
Nyquist, Gustav Grand Rapids PRO AHL 34 10 25 35 10 -5 93
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids PRO AHL 38 11 19 30 31 0 123
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids PRO AHL 35 10 11 21 18 +1 75
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids PRO AHL 30 4 4 8 19 -4 50
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids PRO AHL 28 3 2 5 60 -1 37
Ehrhardt, Travis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 5 0 1 1 11 +4 8
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids PRO AHL 37 6 5 11 21 -10 56
Pare, Francis Grand Rapids PRO AHL 38 6 16 22 14 -4 83
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids PRO AHL 27 1 4 5 13 +1 46
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids PRO AHL 34 5 6 11 18 -2 46
Smith, Brendan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 32 5 12 17 47 0 65
Piche, Sebastien Grand Rapids PRO AHL 18 0 2 2 13 -6 15
Pyett, Logan Grand Rapids PRO AHL 37 1 15 16 26 +1 99
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids PRO AHL 11 2 1 3 2 -1 17
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids PRO AHL 3 1 1 2 2 0 1
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 34 2 11 13 16 -6 76
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 21 3 9 12 8 -5 40
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 40 14 21 35 51 -6 120
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 40 11 17 28 17 +5 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 44 4 18 22 54 -20 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 37 16 27 43 24 -3 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 37 10 16 26 39 +17 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 40 17 25 42 15 -12 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 32 21 25 46 27 +28 129
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 17 3 1 4 10 -2 37
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State COL NCAA 24 5 14 19 2 +7 40
Nicastro, Max Boston U. COL NCAA 19 1 4 5 20 -1 31
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 20 6 2 8 28 -1 36
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 25 2 6 8 27 +14 54
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 22 7 14 21 14 0 77
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 35 10 16 26 4 +2 143
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 35 3 8 11 24 +15 N/A
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 26 9 9 18 51 -6 N/A
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 38 11 15 26 10 -5 N/A
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 28 1 5 6 12 +5 N/A
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 4 0 0 0 2 -3 2

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 32 18 8 5 0 2.89 .913
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 12 1 6 1 1 3.42 .877
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 10 6 4 0 0 3.01 .904
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 13 5 6 1 0 2.68 .905
5 Comments
  1. rich says:

    He was great at the WJC! Another awesome update, thanks!

  2. Joakim says:

    Great update, as always. I don’t envy having to make the mid-season prospect rankings, that’s got to be difficult.

    I saw Järnkrok play in Sweden during the holidays. And I feel that I’m so in favor of the Red Wings’ over-ripe methodology. Järnkrok’s a great prospect but from what I saw it looked like he’s not quite ready for the NHL just yet. Much better having him develop in a lower level league than to prematurely ask him to shoulder the immense responsibility that comes with playing big minutes on a scoring line of a top Stanley Cup contender. Throwing twenty year olds into lineups before they are ready is just a sure way of breaking them.

    Don’t get me wrong though; Järnkrok is one of the best players in arguably the best team in the Swedish elite league. He’s tied-15 in league scoring, and has already produced as much as he did the entire last season. He played for the national team in November and was given the ‘Man of the Match’-award in a game against Russia. Still I felt like he has to develop some parts of his game to really make an impact in the NHL.

  3. Rob says:

    Ehrardt was out with a separated shoulder, not a concussion. He got the injury while fighting after getting boarded in the game against Rochester. Just letting you all know.

  4. Rob Benneian says:

    Sproul has actually played the last 3 games for the Soo. Spoke to him yesterday following their loss to the Spits and he said he feels almost 100% again. He’s playing with a cage right now and mostly limited to power play/offensive zone TOI

  5. worldclock says:

    Backman’s two-way play leaves big impression | Red Wings Central – just great!



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