David Backes is in limbo right now, assigned to the Providence Bruins but not required to report. Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney explained in a short statement yesterday that Backes is healthy enough to play, but wouldn’t be going to the AHL, a nice gesture by the team to not suspend the veteran forward. Today, Sweeney told Joe McDonald of The Athletic that Backes has not actually requested a trade, but is hoping for another opportunity if he’s no longer going to get one in Boston.
Of course, finding another NHL opportunity for a 35-year old with a $6MM cap hit is easier said than done. It also may not really be in Backes’ best interest to be traded. Right now, the Bruins are allowing him to collect his salary without reporting to the minor leagues thanks to their strong relationship. That might not be possible with another organization if he fails again at the NHL level. The most likely scenario still seems to be a buyout this summer, which would allow Backes to seek out other opportunities at a much lower cost.
- Tuukka Rask will be back for the Bruins tonight when they take on the Winnipeg Jets. The goaltender was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago, but ended up missing just three games thanks to the All-Star and bye week breaks. The Bruins already have one of the best “backup” goaltenders in the league in Jaroslav Halak, so a short rest for Rask is no problem for the club. Still, getting their Vezina-caliber starter back is still a boost for the Bruins, who are being chased down by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division race. Perhaps a bit quietly, Rask has a .925 save percentage this season through 28 appearances, his best mark since 2014.
- Depth in net is important, and depth in the minors is important too. Providence today extended alternate captain Josiah Didier for another two years, inking him to an AHL contract. Didier was originally a fourth-round selection by the Montreal Canadiens in 2011, but went the college route and has never actually signed an NHL deal. The 26-year old defenseman has seven points in 40 games for Providence this season.