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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 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89