NHL Notebook: Flames re-sign Mikael Backlund, name him captain and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out 8-to-10 weeks after back surgery

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
The Calgary Flames have a new captain: Mikael Backlund.
The club announced the appointment, along with a shiny two-year, $4.5-million AAV extension on Wednesday. News of the signing, and Backlund’s captaincy, was reported by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
Backlund, 34, is the longest-tenured member of the Flames by a longshot after being taken in the first round of the 2007 draft and his latest deal has him in town for three more seasons. His 908 games played with the team ranks third in franchise history behind Mark Giordano (949), and Jarome Iginla (1219).
The two-way centre is coming off one of his best seasons in the NHL having scored 19 goals and 56 points in 82 games. His goal total ranked third in his career, while his point totals were the best of his career.
His new extension will kick in for the 2024-25 season as the vertan has one year left on a six-year, $5.35-million AAV deal signed in February 2018. Backlund becomes the 21st captain in franchise history.
Backlund has rarely struggled in his 58 regular season games against the Edmonton Oilers having scored 16 goals and 44 points.


Vasilevskiy down

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in for a rude awakening as franchise goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to miss eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing back surgery.
The surgery, a microdiscectomy on a lumbar disc herniation, was announced by the club Thursday afternoon.
According to ESPN’s Ryan S. Clark, Vasilevskiy “informed the team in August that he was having a back issue but was feeling better after having an injection.” Despite that, Clark reported that the back issue flared up during the clubs first practice in training camp leading to his eventual surgery.
To say the loss is significant would be an understatement.
Vasilevskiy stands as one of the few true workhorse goaltenders in the NHL, having played 60 or more games in each of the last two seasons and in 42 or 56 games during the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 campaign. Simply put: he’s been the team’s starting goaltender in 75 per cent of Tampa Bay’s games over the last three years.
Over the last two years it was Brian Elliot who backed up Vasilevskiy, and the difference between the two has been stark.
Andrei Vasilevskiy123123734090.9162.573428374338.267357:10:00
Brian Elliott4139231250.92.9610601178-6.832388:09:00
For now, the only other goaltenders the Lightning have are veteran backup/AHL tweener Jonas Johansson, who has a .886 save percentage in 35 NHL games, and Edmonton native Matt Tomkins, who spent last season in the SHL where he posted a .911 save percentage, 2.53 GAA and a 20-12 record in 32 games.
That, however, could change in a flash. The Vancouver Canucks placed goaltender Spencer Martin on waivers Thursday, so Tampa Bay could always try and put a claim on him as a potential stop-gap. Martin’s numbers aren’t great though. Last year involved his first major NHL stint where in 29 games, he posted an 11-15-1 record and .871 save percentage.
Time will tell what the Lightning have in store.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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