Then and Now: Johan Backlund

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After spending three seasons with Timra IK in the SEL, now the SHL, Johan Backlund signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization in the summer of 2009. The deal gave the undrafted goaltender $100,000 in the AHL and $800,000 in the NHL.

In his first campaign in North American leagues, Backlund took part in 41 AHL games with the Adirondack Phantoms, as well as a pair of games for the Orange and Black.

Although seven goalies did work in the Phantoms’ crease during the 2009-2010 season, Backlund had the most starts on the team with 41. Backlund had the highest save percentage and the lowest GAA of the three netminders that played in 10 games or more for Adirondack. John Grahame, who took part in 12 contests, had a .896 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA while Nicola Riopel, who took part in 10 games, had a .893 save percentage and a 3.35 GAA.

Backlund’s first and only NHL regular season performance came on March 27th, 2010, as he started the contest for Philly in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played the first two periods of the tilt before he left the game with a lower-body injury. Backlund left the Flyers with a chance to win the game, as he denied 22 of 24 shots against and left the game with Philadelphia trailing 2-1. Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko potted goals on Brian Boucher in the third period to finalize the score at 4-1 for the Penguins.

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The Swedish goaltender also saw some playing time in the 2010 postseason for the Flyers, as he saw action in the team’s historic comeback against the Boston Bruins in the ECSF. Backlund saw 1:24 TOI late in the game after Patrice Bergeron put home an empty-net goal to make it 4-1 in favor of the Bruins in Game 3 of the series. This was the last time Backlund saw the ice as a member of the Flyers for a regular season or playoff game.

Backlund resigned with the Flyers in the summer of 2010, as he had a cap hit of $800,000 for the seasons of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.

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The netminder spent all of the 2010-2011 season with the Phantoms, as he served as the team’s starting goalie during a 31-39-4-6 season. Backlund took part in 33 tilts and had a save percentage of .890 and a GAA of 3.28. Michael Leighton had the second most starts for the club with 30, as he posted a .926 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA.

The 2011-2012 campaign was a rough time for Backlund, as he only took part in one game for the Phantoms and one game for the Trenton Titans of the ECHL before he was loaned to Karpat of the SM-liiga. With Karpat in 2011-2012, Backlund served as the backup netminder to Flyers’ 2003 draft pick Ville Hostikka.

After helping the club finish seventh in the 14-team SM-liiga, Backlund took part in all nine of Karpat’s games during the squad’s playoff run. Karpat beat TPS 2-0 in the best-of-five Wild Card Round before falling to the Lahti Pelicans in seven games. Backlund posted a .931 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA.

During the 2012-2013 campaign, Backlund played for Karpat again and also represented Sweden in international play.

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Backlund enjoyed the help of Jason Demers, Kyle Turris, and Jussi Jokinen during the NHL lockout, as the goaltender served as the team’s starting goalie with 34 games played. After he had a 2.25 GAA and .913 save percentage in the regular season, Backlund had a 3.18 GAA and a .893 save percentage in the postseason in a three-game run.

The goalie also took part in one game for Sweden in the 2013 Euro Hockey Tour, as his home country finished in fourth place of the four-team tournament.

As for the 2013-2014 season, Backlund will play for Vityaz Podolsk of the KHL, a squad that will also feature Maxim Afinogenov.