Former Blues captain David Backes inked one of the richest deals of the offseason when he left the mid-west to join the Boston Bruins on a five-year, $30MM deal. While Backes is an excellent two-way player, many criticized the length of the contract given to the 32-year-old C/RW. However, teams today seem to realize that is an inherent risk of free agency and generally hope to see surplus value in the earlier years of the pact.
Backes is only four games into his Bruins career yet the early returns are solid – two goals and three points. But as the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa writes, the biggest benefit of the Backes addition may be in how it’s allowed bench boss Claude Julien to balance out his lines to better take advantage of the skill-sets of his other forwards.
With Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup, he joins Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the Bruins top line. Backes, meanwhile, is slotted in as the second line RW with rookie Danton Heinen on the left of veteran pivot David Krejci. The left-handed Heinen and right-handed Backes give Krejci two wings who play on their strong side and allow the gifted center to deliver passes to his linemates’ forehands. As Shinzawa notes, Krejci has had some of his best seasons when he’s “had a right-hand strongman clearing space on his wing.” In past years, Nathan Horton, Jarome Iginla and Blake Wheeler have provided Krejci with just that and now he has Backes.
More from around the NHL:
- The Jacob Trouba saga in Winnipeg appears no closer to a resolution, as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun writes. Trouba and his agent, Kurt Overhardt, recently made public the defenseman’s request to be traded citing a desire to play top-four minutes on his natural, right side. With Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien under contract with the Jets for at least the next three years, that opportunity didn’t appear to be in Winnipeg. For their part, the Jets have understandably placed a high price tag on Trouba, rumored to be a left-handed defenseman of comparable age and talent to the former first-round draft choice. According to LeBrun, the club hasn’t received an offer to their liking and are prepared to wait it out until they do. There is a hard deadline of December 1st; if Trouba is not under contract at that point he won’t be eligible to play this season.
- The Colorado Avalanche appear poised to recall prospect Mikko Rantanen next week from San Antonio of the AHL, writes Mike Chambers of The Denver Post. Rantanen has been with the Rampage since the start of the season in what has effectively been a conditioning assignment as he works his way back from an ankle injury suffered during training camp. The Avalanche used their first-round selection in the 2015 draft to select Rantanen and the Finnish forward debuted in the NHL in 2015-16, appearing in nine games for the Avalanche. Chambers speculates the team will make room on their 23-man roster by placing veteran center John Mitchell on IR or by sending Gabriel Bourque or Ben Smith to San Antonio.
- Zach Boychuk, who has appeared in 127 NHL games over parts of seven seasons with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville, has inked a pact of HC Sibir of the KHL according to this link, re-tweeted by Cap Friendly (original link in Russian). Boychuk was chosen in the first-round of the 2008 draft by Carolina and has scored 12 goals and 30 points during his NHL career. He has had more success in the minors, once tallying 36 goals and 74 points while playing for Charlotte of the AHL during the 2013-14 campaign.