Mattias Backman’s role is growing in the Swedish Elite League.
The just-turned 20-year-old defenseman, now in his second full season with Linkoping, has seen his ice time boosted to more than 19 minutes per game early this season, third on his team behind ex-NHL blueliners Magnus Johansson and Niclas Havelid.
Last season, he averaged around 16 minutes per game as the team’s sixth defenseman.
The 6-foot-2 175-pounder continues to climb the Red Wings’ prospect ladder since joining the organization as an under-the-radar fifth-round pick (146th overall) in 2011. Red Wings scouts describe him as a smooth skater who makes excellent decisions under pressure and defends with his quick stick and intelligent positioning.
He had a goal and seven assists in 42 games with Linkoping last season while logging big minutes for Sweden en route to a gold medal at the IIHF world junior championship.
So far this season, Backman has chipped in with three assists in nine games.
NOTES: Right-winger Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL) was suspended for the second time this season, this time for a slew-footing incident last week. He will sit one game. He also sat one game earlier this season for a spearing incident. Frk, who has four points in six games in a second-line role, needs to work on his discipline, among other things … Defenseman Alexei Marchenko (CSKA Moscow, KHL) is playing on the same team as Pavel Datsyuk and is averaging around seven minutes per game as a spare blueliner … Center Alan Quine (Peterborough, OHL) has missed the entire season with mononucleosis … Defenseman Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) is out eight to 12 weeks with a broken arm. He was off to a great start with nine points in seven games.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|De Haas, James||Penticton||USHL/JR-A||BCHL||10||2||4||6||6||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||CHL||OHL||7||1||8||9||12||+5||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||CHL||WHL||7||0||3||3||23||+5||–|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||12||0||0||0||2||-3||5|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT