Bruins

Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

In the wake of losing the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins are facing a tight salary cap situation that could prevent them from bringing back all of their talented players.

On paper, an easy move to free up some space would involve dumping David Backes. The 35-year-old was inactive for a good chunk of the team's postseason run and only had 20 total points last season. But Backes, set to make $6 million this season, has buyout protections in his contract and is due another $6 million in the 2020-21 season. And as one assistant GM pointed out, that makes the contract unmovable.

“Impossible to move,” said one assistant GM of Backes' contract to The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa. “It would be a high-end pick plus a prospect. The only way is a bad contract for a bad contract.”

The Bruins certainly wouldn't like to pay that type of price to offload Backes. But that may mean some sacrifices elsewhere on the roster.

Right now, the Bruins have a few players on their roster set to hit restricted free agency. Young building blocks Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all due raises and potential long-term contracts moving forward. Additionally, key bottom-six players Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are going to be unrestricted free agents, and one would think that the Bruins would have an interest in bringing that duo back -- and Johansson in particular.

However, the Bruins don't have a lot of projected cap space. CapFriendly.com projects the Bruins to have just under $13 million in space. That may be enough to bring back the restricted players, but it may keep Johansson from rejoining the team.

While clearing Backes' contract could open the space needed to bring back Johansson, it simply appears to be too high of a price to pay to get rid of him. They have a lot of intriguing young talent in their system, so they may turn to them instead if they can't afford to keep some of the free agents on their roster.

Also, it's notable that throughout the offseason, Don Sweeney has praised Backes' veteran leadership and seems to think that he can still contribute. Backes may play on the fourth line and while $6 million would still be a pretty penny for a fourth-line player, at least the Bruins could use him and wouldn't have to sacrifice long-term assets to get rid of him.

We'll soon see if anything changes for the Bruins, but for the time being, it seems likely that Backes will be back for another season.

HAGGERTY: The pros and cons of bringing back Backes>>>

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NHL trade deadline: Analyzing Bruins' best assets to make moves with

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL trade deadline: Analyzing Bruins' best assets to make moves with

The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and the Boston Bruins have yet to make a move.

The Bruins enter Tuesday with the league's best record and one of its deepest rosters. Still, there are a few areas that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would be wise to upgrade ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one of them is secondary scoring.

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So, what do the B's have to trade? Here's a look at the team's best trade assets.

NHL PLAYERS

David Backes, C/RW
John Moore, D
Danton Heinen, LW

Backes won't be easy to trade. His injury history should be a concern and he's no longer a productive offensive player. There are several teams with enough salary cap space to absorb's Backes' $6 million salary cap hit for next season, but he does have a modified no-trade clause that allows him to veto deals to 15 teams.

John Moore is a good option for teams who want to upgrade their blue line but aren't looking for a rental. Moore has three more years left on his contract with a manageable $2.75 million cap hit. He's a solid third-pairing defenseman despite his lack of scoring. The Bruins have a few young defensemen who could step into Moore's role if he was dealt.

Danton Heinen hasn't played particularly well this season, but he's signed through next season at a reasonable $2.8 million cap hit. Giving up on him at this juncture would be shortsighted.

The Bruins have a really nice roster -- duh, they have the league's best record -- so it doesn't make a ton of sense to trade away many of their NHL players. Torey Krug can be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while losing a defenseman of his caliber for nothing in July would hurt, there's no way a top championship contender should trade an upcoming UFA like him at the deadline. Same with Jaroslav Halak, who has been one of the league's best backup goaltenders since Boston signed him before the 2018-19 campaign. Halak also is a UFA this summer.

PROSPECTS

Jack Studnicka, C, AHL
Urho Vaakanainen, D, AHL
Jack Beecher, C, Michigan (NCAA)
Curtis Hall, C, Yale (NCAA)
Jakub Lauko, LW, AHL
Trent Frederic, C, AHL
Jakub Zboril, D, AHL
Zach Senyshyn, RW, AHL

The Bruins don't have any elite prospects, but they do have several with impressive potential. Jack Studnicka is the best of the group, although it's hard to imagine the Bruins giving him up without a significant player coming to Boston in return. Studnicka should be ready for an extended look at the NHL level next season. Urho Vaakanainen shows promise at 21 years old, and the Bruins can ill afford to give up on their top defenseman prospect with captain Zdeno Chara in the final stages of his career, and veterans Krug and Kevan Miller eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. 

Jakub Zboril has not met expectations since the B's drafted him No. 13 in 2015. Jeremy Lauzon's emergence as a legitimate NHL talent could make Zboril expendable. Zboril also is a restricted free agent after this season. Another member of the Bruins' 2015 draft class is forward Zach Senyshyn, who, like Zboril, has yet to make a strong impact in the NHL and will be an RFA at season's end. Senyshyn has just nine points in 33 AHL games, and a fresh start might benefit him.

Frederic is an interesting one because he doesn't project to be a No. 1 or No. 2 center at the NHL level, which was pretty much the consensus when Boston surprisingly drafted him in the first round in 2016. In fairness, he's only 22 years old and has set career highs in goals, assists and points in Providence this season. The Bruins have plenty of center depth in the NHL and throughout their prospect pool, so it wouldn't be a massive hit to trade away one of these forwards.

DRAFT PICKS

The Bruins are in great shape when it comes to owning their own picks. The only selection over the next three drafts that Boston no longer owns is its fourth-round pick in 2020. This draft pick was part of the trade that sent New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson to the Bruins before last season's deadline. So, if selling teams are looking for draft capital on the trade market, the B's should be able to satisfy this need. They have all of their first-, second- and third-round picks to trade.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has done a nice job holding on to his first-round picks at recent trade deadlines. The only instance where he dealt a first-rounder at the trade deadline was in 2018 when the Bruins acquired Rick Nash from the New York Rangers. The trade made sense at the time -- Nash was among the best players available and filled a need -- but injury prevented him from being a reliable top-six player in Boston. Sweeney mostly has parted with second-, third- and fourth-round picks at the deadline. Last season, he traded two fourth-round selections and a second-rounder (plus Ryan Donato) in deals that acquired Charlie Coyle and Johansson.

The window for Boston to win is right now, and maybe the next two years. The team's veteran core is nearing the end of its prime, so if there was a time to trade a first-round pick for an impact forward, it's this season.

All salary information via Cap Friendly

Haggerty: Weekend deals put mounting pressure on Sweeney

Bruins trade target Tyler Toffoli dealt to Canucks

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Bruins trade target Tyler Toffoli dealt to Canucks

If the Boston Bruins are planning on making a big move before the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 24, their options are dwindling.

One of their rumored trade targets, Tyler Toffoli, was dealt by the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.


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Ex-Bruin Tim Schaller is headed to L.A. in the deal along with prospect Tyler Madden and a second-round pick, per TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Back in January, it was reported by Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman the Bruins "could do a deal for Toffoli almost at any time" and "have that in their hip pocket." Now, Boston is forced to look in another direction. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is another player linked to the B's in trade rumors.

Toffoli, who had spent all of his eight-year career with the Kings, has 18 goals and 16 assists in 58 games this season.

The Bruins will see Toffoli and the Canucks on Saturday when they face off in Vancouver.