The Boston Bruins waived veteran forward David Backes earlier this month and assigned him to the minor leagues in order to bury part of his $6MM cap hit. He was given time to consider his future and whether he would report to the Providence Bruins of the AHL, but today it was announced that he will not play for them. Boston GM Don Sweeney released a short statement explaining the situation (in part):
After speaking with David, we have agreed that it is in the best interest of David and the Bruins for him not to play in Providence at this time. David is fit and able to play, but in order to preserve all potential options for both David and the Bruins moving forward, we have decided this is the best course of action.
Long-time NHL analyst John Shannon weighed in on Twitter, suggesting that the Bruins are trying to “manufacture a trade” for Backes before the deadline. That would seem to be a difficult task, given how expensive he is. The 35-year old forward has another season on his contract with that $6MM cap hit, though his actual salary is just $4MM.
By keeping him in the minor leagues, the Bruins save $1.075MM in full-season cap hit, but retirement or a mutual termination would be much better options for the club. That would wipe Backes’ entire contract off the books, though he would have to be willing to give up the money remaining on it.
Another option for the Bruins would be to buy him out in the summer. A buyout for Backes in June would mean the Bruins save $2MM against the cap for 2020-21, but would incur a $1MM penalty in 2021-22.
No matter what the eventual outcome, it’s a tough way for the former St. Louis Blues captain to go out. Once a reliable power forward that could contribute at both ends of the rink, Backes hasn’t been able to generate any offense since 2018. He has just three points in 16 NHL games this season.