A day after the Bruins announced that David Backes would not play in Providence while both parties look for more suitable avenue to take, Don Sweeney spoke to reporters in Winnipeg to discuss both the veteran’s future with the B’s and his own mindset ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
While Sweeney noted that Backes has not formally requested a trade, it’s been rather apparent that the forward still believes he can positively impact a club up at the NHL level. Given the makeup of Boston’s roster, the writing is on the wall that the only chance Backes has of reclaiming a spot in the NHL ranks will be with another franchise.
“David’s preference is obviously to be playing in the National Hockey League,” Sweeney said. “He still believes he can play, he’s fit to play. But at this time, we’re not going to have him play. We’re going to see what options we may have between now and the deadline and certainly moving forward. For the time being, he won’t be playing and we’ll see where it goes from there.
Sweeney added: “Obviously he would like a different opportunity if it’s not going to be here. His primary focus would be to re-establish himself here, that’s always been that. That’s why he signed here. But at this stage, we had roster issues and we felt that we had other players that would go in and play a role and that’s the decision we made.”
Given the challenges that come with finding a suitor willing to take on Backes’ albatross contract — along with the additional assets that Sweeney would have to part ways with to facilitate such a deal — there’s no guarantee that Boston will be able to ship Backes elsewhere before the deadline.
Boston could wait until the offseason to buy out Backes’ contract and shave $2 million off of its cap, but that would require Backes and the Bruins to be stuck in this state of limbo for over five months before the league year flips over to the 2020-21 campaign.