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Neely defends Backes contract, which still has four years left

St. Louis Blues v Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 22: David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins skates against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at TD Garden on November 22, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blues won 4-2. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

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David Backes put up some decent numbers this season, scoring 17 goals with 21 assists in 74 games.

He had a decent postseason as well, with one goal and three assists in six games.

But at 33 years old, Backes’ game is not what it used to be. And with four years left on a $30 million contract, it’s possible the Bruins could end up with an anchor on their payroll.

Today, B’s president Cam Neely was asked what he thought of Backes’ first year in Boston.

“David had a hard time adjusting,” said Neely. “He mentioned that at the end of year. It was more of a challenge for him to come to a new city and a new team, to get to know 22, 24 other players. That took a while for him to get adjusted.

“I feel like David is really built for the type of playoff hockey you have to play to go deep. He’s a great leader. He’s helped the young kids a ton. If he could pick up a little bit of a step in his game, which he’s going to work on in the offseason, I think that would be beneficial for him and us.”

Read more: Blues explain letting Backes go

It remains to be seen if Backes can find a way to get faster this summer. Getting slower typically goes hand-in-hand with getting older, and with 801 NHL games on his odometer, plus 55 more in the playoffs, Backes has skated a lot of hard miles in a very tough league.

“I like his physicality,” said Neely. “I like the fact that he’ll stand in front of the net and pay the price to be there. I think, offensive-wise, we got kind of what we expected from him. Would we like a little more? Yeah. But I think all the things that he brings, that whole package, was a welcomed addition.”

Related: Sweeney shares offseason plans for Bruins