Par Backer, one of the less heralded Wings prospects, was drafted in the 6th round, 187th overall in 2000. Backer started his career in Sweden with Grums in the Allsvenskan league. Backer did not put up great numbers during his first year, but began to show signs of his skill during the 1999-00 season. In 2000-01, he played with Bofors of the Allsvenskan league and put up decent regular season numbers (9g, 10a in 27 games). Backer’s most impressive performance came in the playoffs however where he scored 11 goals and 5 assists in just 14 games which lead the Allsvenskan league. His clutch performance in the playoffs seems to have become somewhat of a trend.
Backer also earned a spot on Sweden’s WJC-20 team that year where he scored 3 goals and 1 assist in 7 games. His performance with Bofors and the WJC-20 earned him a spot with the SEL’s top team, Farjestad for the 2001-02 season. Backer spent most of the season centering the 3rd or 4th lines, but still put up respectable numbers considering it was his first year in the league and his limited ice time (4 goals, 8 assists in 47 games). However, Backer shined once again in the playoffs when Farjestad suffered some injuries and his icetime and responsibilites increased. In 10 games with the eventual SEL Champions, Backer scored 5g and 1a, including a clutch game winner in game 1 of the finals. He also saw time on the Farjestad power play and penalty kill. Backer has shown through the years in the playoffs that he is a clutch player and has big game ability, something that really impresses me, and something that cannot be taught.
Backer has a good frame at around 6’1″. He is only around the 180 lb though, so adding a few pounds would not hurt. He is a good skater who makes smart decisions with the puck. Backer’s biggest asset is his very sound two-way game. His defensive play often stands out and it’s this two way ability which he has shown that reminds me of Wings’ blue chipper, Henrik Zetterberg. While Backer’s offensive skill level is not up to par with Zetterberg’s, he is a player in the same mold. In many respects, he is a poor man’s Zetterberg. He will never be an elite offensive force by any means, but he does have a pretty good offensive upside.
Backer’s 2002 playoff performance with Farjestad could finally earn Backer quality ice time with team (although Farjestad is as stacked a team there is in the SEL, so icetime may still be at a premium this season). If this finally happens, he is poised to have a breakout season offensively next season. He has shown flashes of being an excellent player and this is why I think that within the next two years, Backer will establish himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the Detroit system. People don’t talk about Backer much because he hasn’t put up huge offensive numbers yet, but I believe much of this can attribute to a lack of icetime. Backer will likely spend at least one more year in the SEL, and very possibly two. Playing for Farjestad, one of the league’s best teams, will be an advantage for him as he will get more opportunities to play in very big games. While the SEL’s level of competition is definitely as good as the AHL, with the new affiliate in Grand Rapids, Detroit may want to bring Backer over after next season to play where they can keep a close eye on him. Either option seems like a good one, especially if Backer again struggles to get quality icetime in Farjestad.
With more icetime, Backer could establish himself as one of the better prospects playing in the SEL. He also has better upside and will likely turn out better than another more popular Detroit prospect, Tomas Kopecky.