Though Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski was initially surprised by David Backes signing in Boston, further review made it understandable. Backes adds another physical, goal scoring center to a team that already includes David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. Wyshynski does warn that Backes arrives with a lot of miles and although he’s only missed 16 games since 2008, his style of play makes the five-year deal somewhat risky near the end of the contract. Regardless, the Bruins beefed up down the middle and have a more favorable look against the best teams in the division–and conference.
Other notes from the Atlantic:
- Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman continues his mastery of signing the team’s high end talent and Tampa Times writer Joe Smith reports that Nikita Kucherov should be the next name for Yzerman to cross off his list. Smith writes that Yzerman is optimistic a deal will get done and predicts that Kucherov could expect Filip Forsberg numbers in the range of a six-year, $36MM deal. But if there’s anything to be seen with Yzerman, it’s that he’s become a master of negotiations. Between Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman taking what was considered significantly less money to stay in Tampa, it should be expected that Kucherov will possibly take less to stay with a team that Yzerman continues to build into an Eastern Conference force.
- The Maple Leafs were very quiet with the exception of signing Matt Martin to a four-year, $10MM deal Friday. TSN’s Kristen Shilton writes that Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello felt that Martin filled a need for the rebuilding organization. The move was also precipitated by bench boss Mike Babcock wanting more toughness on the roster. The Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornsby writes that while the team didn’t come out and say it, Martin’s role will be that of a bodyguard for #1 overall pick Auston Matthews, and other Leaf youngsters. Lamoriello did admit that the signing was one to make his younger players feel “freer” on the ice.
- While the Red Wings inked Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott, their moves weren’t applauded by everyone. The Detroit News’ Gregg Krupa wonders if general manager Ken Holland’s magic touch is beginning to wear off, and writes that the Wings’ top man shouldn’t be finished with his offseason moves quite yet. Colleague Bob Wojnowski agrees, adding that the Wings are a team “scrambling to find their way” and along with Krupa, opines that that the fanbase is growing restless with Holland’s loyalty to players like Darren Helm, who notched a five-year, $19.5MM deal before free agency opened. Craig Hagerman goes even further, writing that the Wings were one of three teams that actually got worse following Friday’s free agent frenzy. While he lauds the Nielsen signing, he questions the re-signing of Helm (registering a 30 point season twice in his career), Ott (no goals last season), and Vanek (bought out for underachieving).