Bruins

Bruins don't expect David Backes to retire after demotion to AHL

Bruins don't expect David Backes to retire after demotion to AHL

David Backes was waived by the Boston Bruins late last week. The statement move to demote the veteran Bruin was part of two critical changes that the B's made to their team. The other was waiving fellow enforcer and physical forward Brett Ritchie.

After Backes' demotion, there was some speculation that the 14-year veteran may opt to retire instead of playing in the AHL for the Providence Bruins. But according to Bruins president Cam Neely, Backes hasn't indicated that he will do that.

"I don’t think he has a mindset of retirement," said Neely per Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe. "He’s a very proud man, and a professional. I still have the feeling he thinks he can help, so we’ll see where it goes from here."

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This isn't altogether surprising. Backes may be holding out hope that he'll get another chance to play moving forward if he can prove himself in the AHL. 

Backes turns 36 in May, but hockey players often have long careers. So, it's possible that Backes could find a role as a veteran depth piece for another team. It'll just be on a deal much cheaper than the five-year, $30 million deal he signed with the Bruins back in the 2016 offseason.

That said, it's worth noting that Backes has had concussion issues in recent seasons. So that could impact his decision-making moving forward.

In 16 games this season, Backes had just one goal and two assists for the Bruins. He'll take some time off before joining the Providence Bruins later this month.

Is Nick Ritchie a better player than Danton Heinen?

Is Nick Ritchie a better player than Danton Heinen?

The Boston Bruins didn't make the big splash that some Bruins fans were hoping that they'd make ahead of the NHL trade deadline. But they did make a smaller move to fill a need ahead of their 2020 postseason run.

Before the deadline passed, the Bruins made another trade with the Anaheim Ducks. After trading for Ondrej Kase during the weekend, they were able to swing a deal that brought Nick Ritchie to the Bruins and sent Danton Heinen to the Ducks.

In the wake of the trade, there was some debate about if the Bruins actually got an upgrade for their team. That was a hot topic on NBC Sports' NHL trade deadline show, and our own Joe Haggerty and DJ Bean debated the merits of the trade.

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Bean, for one, was not impressed with the deal and actually thought that Ritchie was a downgrade for the team.

Is he better than Danton Heinen? No. Danton Heinen hasn't even been that good, and you still downgraded. This was a salary dump, I understand you want to save money and you do save money and you get some of the money back that you're paying to get rid of David Backes along with a first-round pick and a prospect. Now you're basically giving away your first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen and are getting a fourth-liner back.

Haggerty fought back against that notion, saying that Ritchie may actually find a way to impact the game, something that Heinen struggled to do all too often during his time with the Bruins.

How on God's green earth is Danton Heinen better than Nick Ritchie when Ritchie has more goals, averages more points per game, he has twice as many hits. He's actually someone you notice during the game from time to time throwing a hit or actually putting his body in front of the net. We never notice Danton Heinen doing anything when we watch him play.

There will only be one way to actually know which player will end up fitting in better with the Bruins. And that will involve seeing how Ritchie fares for the B's and how they do without Heinen.

For more of Haggerty, Bean, and Tom Giles' thoughts on the NHL trade deadline, check out the video above or head over to YouTube to watch the full clip.

It may not have been dazzling, but the Bruins addressed a big, heavy need with Nick Ritchie dea

It may not have been dazzling, but the Bruins addressed a big, heavy need with Nick Ritchie dea

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins finally responded to the lack of size and heaviness that’s existed as one of the few real, undeniable weak spots for their hockey club over the last few seasons.

Out went 6-foot-1, 186-pound Danton Heinen after never really playing to his size or offensive skill level after a strong rookie season. And in comes newly acquired 6-foot-2, 234-pound Nick Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks in a 1-for-1 trade on deadline day.

Ritchie is a former top-10 draft pick that’s averaged 11 goals and 29 points in Anaheim over the last three seasons while not exactly playing for an offensive powerhouse. The deadline day deal wasn’t done to provide the Bruins with offense, though, as much as it was executed to bring the Bruins size, strength and heaviness up front. With Ritchie, the Bruins are a better equipped to adequately deal with the big, deep and strong teams like Tampa Bay, Washington and maybe even St. Louis that they may face in the playoffs.

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It’s an admission from the Bruins that they needed more physicality and muscle among their forward group after watching the players on the ice get pushed around by the Blues in last season’s Stanley Cup Final and pushed around one too many times by the Capitals over the last handful of seasons as well.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney alluded to glaring roster need while discussing the deal with the media on Monday afternoon. To that end Ritchie also said he plans to bring the “big game” of net-front presence, hitting and gritty play along the boards with him to Boston. And that’s exactly what his job description is going to require.

“It was an area that we felt we needed to address from some interior ice play, size and strength, net-front play, contested puck battles. [These are] things that we feel Nick will bring to the table for us,” said Sweeney. “He’s done it in Anaheim and we think he’ll address some of those needs for us moving forward.

“Where [the Bruins players] were last year in a Game 7 and where they are this year, they should be proud of themselves. But if you have opportunities where you can address areas of need with your group then you have to do it. Secondary scoring is always so important and we believe Ondrej [Kase] will provide some of that. If [Ritchie] goes in and plays with Charlie Coyle then those are two big guys that are going to be hard to contain.”

There’s no doubt the Bruins are better on the ice after essentially trading a first round pick, David Backes, Danton Heinen and Axel Andersson to Anaheim in exchange for Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, and they also shaved upwards of $3 million off their salary cap for next season as well. The extra cap space will be a massive, long-term roster-building factor when it comes to re-signing both Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk.

But that’s a story for another day with the Bruins attempting to keep up with teams like the Lightning, Penguins and Capitals that were very active improving their teams ahead of the trade deadline.

The immediate impact will make the Bruins a tougher team to play against with a little more diversity among their winger options from game-to-game and opponent-to-opponent. They can go the speed route with a player like Karson Kuhlman against the faster, more skilled teams, or they can go the big, heavy and physical route with Ritchie against heavier match-ups around the league that turn into punishing grudge matches in the postseason.

That’s an important difference from last year’s group where it felt like the Bruins roster was built for regular season success with a dominant Perfection Line, great special teams play and an elite goaltending duo that led them to the postseason. They have the speed, skill and special teams game down to a scientific winning formula.

This season they are still built for the regular season with the same group of impressive strengths. But now, it feels like they are also a little more prepped for nasty, physical playoff battles where big bodies and bad attitudes are often needed.

It remains to be seen how it will all play out for the Black and Gold when they attempt to get through the Eastern Conference playoff gauntlet. But at long last it seems like this trade deadline shows that the Bruins decision-makers learned from what caused them to fall a little short of their goals last spring, and they’re not going to get fooled again.