Backing Backlund strategy

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:08 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Patrik Berglund understands it will take time for Flames prospect Mikael Backlund to make the jump to the NHL.

However, Berglund -- the St. Louis Blues forward who grew up with Calgary's 2007 first-round draft choice -- believes the wait for Backlund and patience being taken to ensure he adjusts before being a regular in the league will be worth it.

"He's a great player and when he's on top of his game he's almost unstoppable. He's got that power and when he takes the puck to the net, he's a great scorer," Berglund said yesterday. "He's gonna be a really good player for the Flames, I'm sure."

Backlund has collected seven goals and 14 points in 32 games this season for the Abbotsford Heat, Calgary's AHL squad after making the jump from the junior ranks last season.

Backlund and Berglund played together from when they first started skating until a couple of years ago in the city of Vasteras, Sweden, and were teammates on their hometown pro team up until Berglund's move to the Blues prior to last season.

They worked out together in the off-season, and Berglund is looking forward to facing him at the NHL level.

"I know he was really excited to come over. I don't know if he'll be getting up soon or not, but I hope so," he said.

Right now, though, Berglund has his own game to worry about, too.

After a 21-goal, 47-point rookie season last year, he's struggled so far this year, having collected only three goals and six points in 26 outings amidst a textbook sophomore slump.

He's bounced from being a top-six player to a healthy scratch, as he was for last night's clash with the Flames.

"It's been up and down for me this season," said Berglund, 21. "But I'm staying positive and when I get the chance, hopefully I'll take it and play better."

St. Louis headed into last night's clash tied with Anaheim for last in the conference and had the second-worst offence in the league.

"Some of our veterans haven't played well enough, and we're in a battle for points, so young guys like that, you can't have the patience you'd like to have with them," said Blues head coach Andy Murray.

"I don't think (his struggles are) unexpected. What is unexpected is the production of our veteran players, and that impacts youngsters like that."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

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