SUN Hockey Pool

Swede chance to make Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

One Calgary Flames prospect stands out as the only serious threat to the veteran players who join camp next week.

Whether or not Mikael Backlund stands out over the next few days the way he did in the world junior tournament last winter and at the Flames' summer development camp remains to be seen, but it's not just fans who are excited about his chances of cracking the lineup.

"It's going to be real fun. I've been looking forward to it since I left Calgary," said Backlund yesterday, after completing his fitness testing at the Saddledome.

"I'm just excited. Of course, a little bit nervous, too, when the main camp starts. But right now, I'm just feeling real excited."

Mentioning the main camp before today's first on-ice rookie session even starts might seem a little presumptuous, but Flames head coach Mike Keenan says confidence is the key to the 20-year-old Swede's success.

"At that age, it's the exceptional player that can make the jump that has the confidence levels, primarily," said Keenan. "Sometimes, they have the physical attributes, but they don't have the confidence to deal with the expectations of their teammates."

"Yeah, I want to play here this year -- that's my goal," Backlund said. "I'll do my best and see how it goes."

While Keenan scouted the prospect from the stands this summer, Backlund enquired about his potential coach.

"I talked with some guys back home that had him before. He likes hard-working guys, so that's what I have to show him," said Backlund, who will take part in the rookie tournament tomorrow and Monday in Camrose. "Work hard every day, every game and every practice -- that's what I think he expects from me. So that's what I'll try to do."


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