Birthdate: April 29, 1986 (25 years old)
Birthplace: Cos Cob, Connecticut, United States
Acquired: Signed Free Agent, 2011
2010-2011 Team: Texas Stars
2010-2011 Stats: 67 GP - 7 G - 16 A - 23 P - 20 PIM
2011-2012 Team: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Team Role: Bottom 6 Forward
Last year: Backman spent the majority of his first professional season playing at Dallas' AHL affiliate in Texas. He did spend a small amount of time in Idaho, playing for the Steelheads of the ECHL as well, totaling 4 points in 5 games. The undersized forward came from Yale University, where he averaged over a point-per-game in 3 of his 4 collegiate seasons. He played a bottom-6 role for the AHL Stars last season, totaling 23 points in 67 games.
Expectations: Backman joins the Islanders organization for the 2011-12 season on a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL contract). His ties to the organization go no further than being the brother-in-law of Matt Moulson, so he does have some familiarity with the team. This year, Backman will be expected to play in a depth forward role for the Sound Tigers, which is a good spot for him to get acquainted with Brent Thompson's system. In a sense, he reminds me of Sean Bentivoglio - he is the same type of player, undersized, and is trying to transition from the collegiate level to the professional level. Time will tell if he can show a similar level of progression, even though Bentivoglio never made it as a full-time pro.
Projections: 71 GP - 8 G - 19 A - 27 P
CH: Nothing wrong with getting a guaranteed AHL contract to fill in the bottom 6 for the Sound Tigers, which is something they've been largely lacking over the past year or so. Playing with guys like Trevor Frischmon, Tyler McNeely, and Justin DiBenedetto, Backman will have a real opportunity to prove what he can do. In addition, the potential of guys like Micheal Haley on the team full-time will push the entire forward corps to be better, meaning Backman is going to have to show something to stay in the top-9. Either way, Backman is a solid addition to a team that needed any sort of AHL in the worst way.
AT: A proven scorer at the NCAA level, Backman should find himself a nice slot on the Sound Tigers. With the amount of talented centers now at the AHL level, Backman should be producing at a decent level. Sure, he was probably brought in solely as a favor to Matt Moulson, but he is a talented player who will provide all of the help he possibly can at the AHL level. We needed it, and now we have it. Not sure if Backman will ever even see call-up time in the NHL, but along with Frischmon, McNeely and Colliton, depth is something you can never have enough of. Especially if you're the New York Islanders organization.