On Friday Boston Bruins winger David Backes expressed some doubt that he may not be in the team’s plans going forward. General manager Don Sweeney didn’t exactly commit to David Backes returning for the fourth season of his five-year contract Monday but did sound a bit more optimistic than Backes that the 35-year-old veteran forward can still play a role on the team that scratched him nine times in the 2019 Stanley Cup. While he didn’t rule out trading Backes, he indicated that as of now, Backes is part of the plan going forward.
“I don’t think any our seasons ended the way we would’ve liked, to be honest with you,” the Bruins GM said at an end of the season presser he and head coach Bruce Cassidy held Monday. “You think that we had a tremendous run, he was a big part of that, reinserted in Game 2 against Toronto where we elevated our physical play. You know he was a big part of our hockey club on and off the ice. So where it fits going forward, he’s a part of our hockey club. I have discussions on different players, he may or may not be part of that, but for the most part, he’s a part of our hockey club. Where his impact is, is again up to Bruce [Cassidy] and again up to David in terms of a production standpoint if you’re referencing that. Or from a leadership standpoint, we know what he brings. And I think there’s value there.”
As he did for much of the second half of the season and at various points during the playoffs, Cassidy envisions Backes as a fourth line grinder.
“Well I’ve always said he’s best, without knowing what our roster’s going to look like going into September, I have a good idea obviously … I thought he best fit in with [Sean] Kuraly/[Noel] Acciari, [Joakim] Nordstrom in that type of role,” the B’s head coach said. “At the end of the day when Wagner, Acciari and him were all healthy, there’s obviously competition for those spots, so sometimes he was in there, sometimes he wasn’t. So that’s where I see his best contribution with the team. At times he can go up in the lineup and give you some grit, a net-front presence, but in general, that’s where he played his best hockey for us. So we’ll have to see how it shakes out, who else is in there in that role that he’ll have to beat out for minutes.”
On Friday Backes was clearly worried his time may be up here.
“I wish I had answers for you, I don’t, and we’ll see again,” Backes said. “Those are the things I cannot control and I don’t necessarily try to. Did it take up some headspace? Sure. But I reserve it somewhere else. I don’t know what that time schedule looks like. I know what my contract says for trade teams lists. Obviously, if I’m going somewhere else — which I hope to not be. This is a hell of group in here. This is a great group of guys. A great group of wives. There’s a reason we got so far in this playoffs. We cared for each other and leaned on one another. You want to play for the guy next to you.”
Backes had two goals and three assists in 15 playoff games and seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular season games. He is entering the fourth season of a five-year contract that pays him $6 million per season.