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Wings in Waiting: Mattias Backman

Wednesday, 07.30.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Wings in Waiting: Mattias Backman

Red Wings prospect Mattias Backman won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2012 World Junior Championship. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – North America got a peak at another Swedish prospect last season, as defenseman Mattias Backman jumped across the pond to continue his successful development within the Red Wings’ organization.

Backman, Detroit’s fifth-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft, is a 6-foot-3, mobile defenseman that joined the Grand Rapids Griffins after his Swedish team, Linkoping, was eliminated from the 2014 Swedish Elite League playoffs.

Backman appeared in two regular-season games with the Griffins, and scored one goal in one playoff game with the defending Calder Cup champions.

Prior to joining the Griffins, Backman helped Linkoping reach the SEL semifinals, recording seven assists in 13 games.

The defenseman enjoyed a successful postseason campaign after struggling during the regular season, as Backman suffered injuries that stalled his development heading into the 2013-14 season.

“Last summer, he had some health issues and it stalled him a little bit,” said Jiri Fischer, Detroit’s director of player development. “He went into the season and physically, he didn't take the next step that he needed to really become the go-to guy in Linkoping. He was inconsistent, but thanks to wanting to get better, he has. His consistency is better and better and better.”

Backman earned six goals and 15 assists in 54 games with Linkoping during his third and final SEL campaign.

“Last year, he established himself as one of the top young defensemen playing outside of the NHL,” Fischer said. “In Linkoping, he played on the top pair and he had a fantastic season. He ended up being on the national team.”

In three years with Linkoping, Backman earned a total of nine goals and 46 assists, plus four goals and 17 assists during the playoffs.

In his first professional season in Sweden, Backman skated in 42 games for Linkoping, and also played for the gold-medal winning Swedish team at the 2012 World Junior Championship. The defenseman was the team’s second-leading scorer with two goals and six assists through six games.

“After we drafted him, the half a year he played so well,” Fischer said. “He just got better so much, thanks to his skating and puck moving and his hockey sense, and his ability to shadow players in the defensive zone and not get beat. He's very responsible.”

The defenseman signed a three-year entry-level contract with Detroit in May, 2013, and is expected to continue his future development in Grand Rapids in the upcoming AHL season.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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