Bruins

Constructing Bruins roster: Where is the best spot for David Backes on Boston’s roster?

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the dog days of the NHL offseason now upon us, we’re going to spend the next couple of weeks taking a deeper dive at a number of players on the Bruins’ roster (or on the cusp of a roster spot) who could make a major impact on the club’s hopes of putting together another Cup run.

Here are our previous breakdowns of B’s players this summer: 

Part 1: F Danton Heinen
Part 2: F Peter Cehlarik
Part 3: F Charlie Coyle
Part 4: F Anders Bjork
Part 5: F Zach Senyshyn
Part 6: D Urho Vaakanainen
Part 7: F Sean Kuraly
Part 8: F Karson Kuhlman

Next up, let’s take a look at one of the Bruins’ top question marks this season — both on the ice and in terms of the cap — in David Backes. 

Player: David Backes

Age: 35 (turns 36 on May 1)

Position: Forward

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3 / 215 pounds

2018-19 Stats: 70 games played – 7 goals, 13 assists, 13:02 ATOI

Season In Review: Given what has already been a tumultuous tenure in Boston, it’s certainly saying something that the 2018-19 campaign was far and away the toughest season of Backes' impressive NHL career. 

A year removed from a 2017-18 season in which Backes suffered through a bout of diverticulitis, colon surgery, a skate blade to the leg and more ailments that limited him to just 57 games, the veteran rebounded by appearing in 70 games in what was his third go-around in Boston. 

But the end result for Backes proved to be more painful than what any broken bone or surgery could bring, as the veteran was scratched for the final three games of the Stanley Cup Final — forced to watch from high above the TD Garden ice as the club he captained for five years, the St. Louis Blues, captured their first championship. 

It was a heartbreaking end for Backes, but one that served as the culmination to a frustrating season for all parties involved. 

Relegated to a bottom-six role for most of the year, Backes primarily spent most of his 5v5 minutes alongside fourth-line groupings featuring Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari (107 minutes together), as well as Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly (100 minutes together). But as a whole, Backes was often a man without a line, forming part of 17 different forward combinations that logged at least 10 minutes of 5v5 TOI together during the regular season — while eventually getting tabbed as a healthy scratch for the first time in 12 years back in January. 

Limited to just seven goals and 20 total points last year and with plenty of new additions/younger players poised to sap away his minutes, the writing seems to be on the wall that Backes’ time with the B’s — at least as an everyday contributor — is in the past. 

“We didn’t get there, at least in our meetings,” Backes said back in June about his future with the club. “I don’t know what that looks like. Probably have a better answer for you when I have more control of my future. But I’m in flux at the moment and I guess I gotta trust in the bigger plan and that’s kind of where I’m at.”

Of course, the biggest question when it comes to Backes’ future in Boston lies in his contract, which will pay the veteran $6 million over each of the next two seasons. 

We’ve already gone over the multiple scenarios when it comes to jettisoning that contract time after time this summer, so we won’t dive any deeper than saying, well — a buyout isn’t going to happen (with the club on the hook for 5,666,667 million this season), while a trade to offload that money would come at a pretty hefty cost. 

While the Bruins and their roughly $8 million in cap space could really use that extra $6 million to lock up Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to new contracts, what scenarios could play out if Boston opts to keep Backes for at least another season? 

BSJ Analysis: