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Shades of Edler in Red Wings’ Backman

Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 2:54 p.m. under 2012-13 RWC Reports
Mattias Backman

Mattias Backman (Credit:

The story about how Hakan Andersson just missed a shot at drafting Alexander Edler almost a decade ago is well documented. But Mattias Backman is on course to take away some of the sting.

Andersson, the Detroit Red Wings director of European scouting, is thrilled with the progress of the 6-foot-2, 176-pound Backman, who sits among the top 10 defense scorers in the Swedish Elite League at just 21 years of age.

“He’s Alexander Edler, that’s how he looks to me,” said Andersson, comparing Backman to the Vancouver Canucks defenceman who just signed a six-year, $30-million contract extension.

“He’s surprising everybody. He’s coming along very nicely. He’s good-sized, he’s really mobile, he’s playing with more confidence, he’s joining the rush more, he’s more comfortable skating the puck out of his own end when he has to. Everything he does is with more authority.”

Backman plays for Linkoping and has a goal and 20 assists along with a plus-9 rating while averaging more than 20 minutes a night. He’s on pace to triple last year’s eight-point rookie output and is starting to realize the offensive potential Andersson saw in him when he was drafted in the fifth round, 146th overall, in 2011.

“We kind of felt he could be a player with the puck, and now he’s turned into that,” Andersson said. “He’s a big, mobile defenceman — I don’t know if he’s going to be a really physical guy who will scare you but he will scare you on the power play, that’s for sure. His game with the puck can be really good.”

While Backman’s not physical, he showed Andersson a tough mental attitude after taking a blindside hit while not carrying the puck during a national-team game in December.

“He said, ‘My own fault. You’ve got to be prepared always,’” Andersson recalled. “That was nice to hear that he thinks that way. He’s stepped up.”

Andersson said that aside from Edmonton Oilers first-rounder Oscar Klefbom, he wouldn’t trade Backman for any defenseman in Sweden.

Backman should get a look for Team Sweden at the IIHF world championship in May, but he’s expected to spend one more season with Linkoping before coming to North America.

Also encouraging to Andersson are reports he’s been receiving from the Kontinental Hockey League on defenceman Alexey Marchenko, a seventh-round pick in 2011 who plays for CSKA Moscow.

Marchenko, a rising star in his youth, had fallen off the radar over the past three years because of injuries and is only now climbing the charts at age 21. He has four goals and five assists in 42 games and is averaging 13 minutes per night.

Andersson said the 6-foot-2, 183-pounder is similar to Backman, not quite as advanced, but playing in a better league.

“He’s a bit like Backman, he needs to fill out, but he’s good with the puck and he’s a right-hand shot,” Andersson said. “They both have potential to come in and do something with puck. They won’t just be 6-7 defensemen who bang it off the glass.”

According to Andersson, CSKA — one of the better teams in the KHL — tried to re-sign Marchenko but so far, he’s held firm on his plan to play in North America next season.

“I’m convinced he can be a very good defenseman for Grand Rapids next season and where he takes it from there, I don’t know,” Andersson said.

NOTES: Goaltender Petr Mrazek earned the win for the Western Conference, 7-6 over the Esatern Conference, in the AHL all-star game, allowing two goals on six shots in the third period. Gustav Nyquist, considered a graduated prospect by RWC, had an assist, one shot, and a minus-two rating … Right-winger Mitchell Callahan (Grand Rapids, AHL) had a hat trick on Jan. 19 and is coming on with five goals and two assists in nine games along with 28 shots … Centre Riley Sheahan (Grand Rapids, AHL) has a team-leading plus-13 rating in 40 games … Left-winger Teemu Pulkkinen (Jokerit, Finnish SM-Liiga) has emerged from an early-season slump. After just six points in his first 22 games, he now has nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 25 games.

Following is this week’s statistical report.


Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 42 16 17 33 31 0 95
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids AHL PRO 33 10 15 25 51 -4 77
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids AHL PRO 25 3 4 7 26 +4 23
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids AHL PRO 36 2 4 6 23 +4 38
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 42 16 20 36 44 +9 141
Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 39 4 11 15 22 +5 50
Nicastro, Max Grand Rapids AHL PRO 9 1 1 2 5 +3 7
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids AHL PRO 25 2 4 6 30 -2 20
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 40 13 10 23 23 +13 66
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 36 1 4 5 33 -1 49
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 37 6 5 11 61 +1 57
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 40 6 5 11 12 -4 51
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 11 1 1 2 21 -3 9
Coetzee, Willie Toledo ECHL PRO 42 18 19 37 10 +1 181
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo ECHL PRO 34 10 26 36 22 +16 95
Fournier, Gleason Toledo ECHL PRO 10 0 0 0 8 +5 11
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State WCHA NCAA 26 3 16 19 10 +9 38
Marshall, Ben Minnesota WCHA NCAA 26 5 6 11 12 +11 39
McKee, Mike Lincoln USHL/JR-A USHL 27 2 9 11 220 +7 40
De Haas, James Penticton USHL/JR-A BCHL 41 4 17 21 17
Frk, Martin Halifax CHL QMJHL 35 18 32 50 60 +16 104
Ouellet, Xavier Blainville-Boisbriand CHL QMJHL 32 6 22 28 32 +15 108
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville CHL QMJHL 45 11 14 25 40 +2 95
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie CHL OHL 32 14 27 41 33 +3
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie CHL OHL 48 21 30 51 26 +12
Quine, Alan Belleville CHL OHL 33 11 25 36 14 -7
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver CHL WHL 18 8 14 22 16 +2
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current CHL WHL 50 2 18 20 85 -10
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 45 11 24 35 10 -5 122
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 43 1 20 21 26 +9 49
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 47 12 15 27 41 +4 210
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 42 4 5 9 6 0 45
Bodin, Rasmus HV-71 EUR-JR SWE-J20 13 0 1 1 10 -1 11


Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 35 17 13 3 1 3.44 .901
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 17 10 6 1 1 2.69 .899
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 3 0 3 0 0 4.38 .847
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 23 14 7 11 0 2.42 .911
Mrazek, Petr Toledo ECHL 3 2 1 0 0 2.02 .944
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 21 12 7 1 2 2.48 .909
  1. RW19 says:

    Hey Adam Banks – not sure if you heard/saw but they actually had Tatar skating with Pavel at practice today!

  2. Adam Banks says:

    I didn’t see, great to hear! That would be a pretty cool gig for Tatar as he can both pass and shoot pretty effectively. This is good for obvious reasons, but I still would have liked to see what he could do with Eaves, as that line would have both a right and a left handed shot. I realize Eaves only has one point on the season, but with a talented forward opposite of him making creative plays, it might help with his production. But, if they are indeed planning on keeping Tatar around for the long term, might as well get him playing with one of the best. Good for him.

  3. Daryl says:

    Hey all, First time poster and love the site, always some insightful conversations going on here. Just a thought, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an influx of rookie players hit the Wings roster next year. With all the young talent moving into the minors with Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, Sproul, Ouellet, Frk, Tvrdon (if healthy), and even Marchenko, Quine, and Nedomlel if signed. The Wings are going to have to make some moves or end up trading guys away. There’s just not enough space to keep the slow mentality and be able to properly develop players. Any way it goes it’s going to be an interesting season for Holland. Definitely looking forward to it.

  4. ScottD says:

    Welcome to the site Daryl. You are right there will be a huge log jam after this year. Some of the under producing prospects will have to be dumped and some guys will end up in the ECHL. As for Nedomlel is concerned I hope they sign him. Love the toughness and size. He could be left in the WHL as an overrager (I think they can do that). There will be some guys moving somewhere. Whether via trade or being released it will be interesting to see how the Wings handle this.

  5. Adam Banks says:

    Glad to see people getting in on the conversation. I agree that people are going to have to be shifted in order to make room on all fronts. I hope that we can count on some of the young talent in the big club next year, starting with the obvious Nyquist, Tatar and Anderson. No matter what GR is going to be absolutely stacked with quality prospects, with those named by Daryl adding to a solid group already. Who goes down to the ESHL, with only three probable players moving up to the Big Club. I don’t follow the Griffins to a T, but I haven’t heard about Marc-Aubry doing much. Trever Parks move down? The next few years will be exciting to say the least, with quality prospects breaking in and Holland continuing to search for a top six forward and a number one defenseman.

  6. Shawn says:

    Joakim, Adam, I like Tatar. I just think it is highly unusual for Holland to bring up a forward like this when there is no real pressing need. I hope I’m wrong. I’d rather see us use what we have instead of trading resources away.

  7. Adam Banks says:

    Agreed. At least give them a chance before they are thrown away. I have no doubt Tatar is going to show intense energy during the game. I hope he scores a goal, but either way I believe he will be one of the most lively guys out there.

  8. RW19 says:

    The calling up of Tatar has a lot to do with the ineffectiveness of the players they have in Detroit right now. Perhaps he is there to be showcased, but it could simpley be that the coaching staff is concerned with the lack of scoring ability in the bottom six, or maybe even lines 2 through 4!

    Let’s be honest here and look at facts. Cleary at his highest point was a 40 point guy, but he really seems to have lost a step. Bert hasn’t hit 20 goals & 50 points in years (05-06). Sammy had 30 goals once in his 12 year career and that was playing with the Sedin twins 3 years ago. The rest of them, even including Helm have one 20 goal season between them (Eaves) and that was back in 05-06.

    One of the secrets of Red Wings success has been fielding a third line capable of scoring and a fourth line capabale of grinding hard. The Fourth line is there (Helm, TooToo, Abdelkader) but the third line is MIA.

    The team simply has too many grinders for its own good.

  9. Daryl says:

    I believe the stat I saw was that we’ve gotten only a single assist from players on the 3rd and 4th lines, and that was courtesy of Eaves assisting on a Zetterberg power play goal. So bringing Tatar up was to try and boost those lines. They did have him working in the top six though during practice which makes me wonder if it is to spotlight for a possible trade. However, with how committed Kenny has been over the last few years to trying to build from within, it doesn’t seem likely

  10. Pav19 says:

    Totally agree with RW19 here. We basically have 6 grinders in the bottom 6 and, on top of that, 3 more grinders as healthy scratches or fill-ins. Outside of the top two lines, there’s nobody able to score and this year it’s showing.

    Fortunately, reinforcement is on the way. Actually, I’m hoping for a bottom 6 for next year which looks something like this:
    Jarnkrok – Helm – Tatar
    Abdelkader – Sheahan – Tootoo
    Maybe Andersson for Sheahan and then there’s still Mursak (who could be good when healthy) and Miller, Eaves, etc. but I’d really like to see Nyquist in the top 6 and a scoring 3rd line with Jarnkrok and Tatar. Quick Launch

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