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Grading the 2010 Flyers: Johan Backlund

Grade: B
09/10 Salary: $800,000
10/11 Cap Hit: $800,000
10/11 Salary: $800,000
Depth Chart Ranking: #2 Goaltender

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2009 - Johan Backlund 1

With all of the goaltending problems the Flyers had last year, Backlund had to have been the most unlucky. He sees Emery go down, gets called up for 5 games, then sees the team claim Michael Leighton off waivers. He gets sent back down only to have Brian Boucher go down to injury a week later. He backs up Leighton for one game and goes back to the Phantoms.

Emery returns only to go down again. Leighton goes down, but Backlund is injured. When he would have been on the bench, he's rehabbing. He finally gets a start in the NHL and he injures himself in the first period, playing another 20 minutes on a bad groin. When he finally gets a chance, even he goes down with injury.

Such was the life of a goaltender on the Flyers this past year. That simple fact makes it hard to judge Backlund's season, since two-thirds of a game isn't exactly a clear picture. But Backlund came in and played well. It looked like he hurt himself on the Penguins first goal, but by his own words, he was already hurt by the point:

"It was the first period, a couple minutes before their first goal, I was sliding to my left and I heard something snap there," Backlund recalled. "I wanted to continue. I felt so much adrenalin. But it got worse and worse. The second period it felt pretty bad."

Jump to see what's in store for Backlund.

The Flyers goaltending situation for 2010-11 is still unclear, but both Brian Boucher and Backlund are under contract. Along with Sergei Bobrovsky, they are the only ones signed at this point. And judging from his contract, it appears as if Backlund will battle for an NHL job this year and be slotted for a full-time NHL job in 2011-12.

For next year, Backlund's contract stays roughly the same: $800k NHL salary and cap hit, $105K AHL salary. But starting in 11-12, Backlund is on a one-way deal where his salary will be $800,000 whether he's in the NHL or AHL. With Boucher unsigned for that year, it seems safe to say the Flyers are banking on Backlund being at least the backup by that time.

What about this year, you ask? It was reported that Backlund would not want to re-sign if he wasn't at least guaranteed a chance to win an NHL job next year, and that could still be true. But it's highly unlikely the team enters the season with the three B's as their top-three goalies. The team is almost certainly going to acquire another netminder to battle for a top-two spot.

So Backlund gets a B for three reasons: 1) He played well the only time he touched NHL ice; 2) He popped his groin and kept playing (and well, for that matter); and 3) Only Boucher opens a bench door with more elegance. Is it a coincidence the Flyers playoff record when he's opening the door is a phenomenal 11-5? I don't think so.

Coming up later today will be a much more detailed post on Backlund, specifically his time in the AHL. For now, though, we ask: Would you be okay with Boucher/Backlund as your Flyers goaltenders next year? Is there a condition before being okay with it?