“For all the hockey reasons in the world I really like the Bruins signing free agent David Backes earlier today. For all the economic reasons involved with how the salary cap does and doesn’t work, I struggle with it.” – BostonPucks, July 1st 2016
I hate to say I saw this coming but I kinda did. I think quite a few people felt this was a very real possibility as well. It’s as simple as what I wrote, quoted above, two years ago on the day the Bruins signed Backes. He’s a great guy, one that’s easy to root for, and has brought so much to the Bruins that they sorely missed at that time. But the price tag to obtain him was atrocious. That’s how free agency usually works.
No matter how many intangibles #42 provides, the mentoring of the current youth movement, the locker room, he’s just too damn expensive for the production he’s providing.
Add in the mounting injuries that have hit him consistently, which is something that is quite new for Backes in his career, and he and the organization are in a tough spot.
I’m sure Backes would love to remain a Bruin. The balance of emerging youth and a Cup winning core have put them in a good spot for a player on the back third of their career chasing a championship like Backes. But I’m not sure I see it working out.
The tricky part will be finding a new home for Backes. He’s due $6 million per year for the next three seasons. The Bruins will likely eat some money on his way out the door. And again, the injury bug that Backes caught won’t help his marketability either. But, there have always been cellar dwellers in the past (ie: Arizona Coyotes) who simply just need to hit the salary cap floor and/or teams in full rebuild (ie: Ottawa Senators) who need leadership and a culture change. Backes can provide all of those to the right buyer.
I’m not sure where Backes will end up. I’m not sure if he’ll even be moved. But just like the day he was signed his departure will come with mixed feelings. He’s helped steer the Bruins locker room and culture in such a positive direction, but at a price that just doesn’t make sense.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.