Could the Boston Bruins really find a taker for David Backes and his burdensome contract?
The NHL trade deadline is Monday, and the Bruins need to make a move to upgrade their secondary scoring, especially after Eastern Conference rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals all made moves in the past two weeks to improve their rosters.
One way to open up salary cap space to acquire a top-six forward is moving Backes and his contract, which according to CapFriendly, has another year remaining with a $6 million salary-cap hit.
FOX Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland tweeted Friday he expects Backes to be on the move ahead of the trade deadline, and potentially as part of a deal that takes him out of the East. Strickland has covered the St. Louis Blues for many years. Backes played the first 10 seasons of his career in St. Louis.
Expect a move involving David Backes before Monday’s trade deadline. Likely moving back to the Western Conference. #Bruins— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) February 21, 2020
This comes after Strickland tweeted earlier this month that some teams were interested in Backes, who has a modified no-trade clause.
Told that there are teams who have expressed some level of interest in #Bruins forward David Backes. Many are on his no-trade list. He’s submitted a list of 8 teams he will accept a trade to. Increases to 15 this summer. Team is keeping him off the ice to avoid potential injury— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) February 11, 2020
Our own Bruins insider Joe Haggerty wrote last month about a potential scenario involving the Anaheim Ducks. Ducks forward Ondrej Kase and defenseman Josh Manson are good trade targets for contenders.
Clearly any deal involving Backes, Kase and/or Manson would also require significant assets moving to Anaheim from the Bruins, and it’s still up in the air what Boston would be offering aside from their own first round pick.
That would be the premium cost for the Ducks taking Backes’ money off their hands. But an expanded trade would clearly be more than B-level prospects from Providence given both what Boston would be sending and what would be coming back in return.
It’s been no secret that Anaheim has scouted the Bruins pretty closely in recent months leading up to the deadline, and vice-versa with Bruins Director of Player Development Jamie Langenbrunner spotted scouting a Kings/Ducks game in early December.
Backes has been largely unproductive the past two seasons with only eight goals in his past 86 games. The 35-year-old veteran was waived in January and sent to the Providence Bruins of the AHL, although Boston announced late last month that Backes won't be playing in the minors at this time.
The Bruins are saving about $1 million in cap space by burying Backes' contract in the minors. They are able to retain up to $3 million of Backes' cap hit in any trade involving him. But moving Backes to another team might be tricky unless Boston agrees to send another asset, like a draft pick, to make the forward's contract less of a burden for the team acquiring him. There are seven Western Conference teams with $10 million or more in cap space, as of this writing, per CapFriendly.
Getting rid of some or all of Backes' contract would give Bruins general manager Don Sweeney additional financial flexibility to make a move at the trade deadline, and/or re-sign some of the team's key free agents this summer, including top-four defenseman Torey Krug.