For a player as well established and as well respected as David Backes, there is a good chance that Saturday afternoon will turn into a career low.
The Boston Bruins, and more specifically Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, made shockwaves this week with some of their roster moves, specifically as it pertains to their moves on the waiver wire. The Bruins started things off roughly midway through the week when they made the decision to place veteran Brett Ritchie on waivers, a decision that was made fresh off the heels of a tough loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a clear sign that Sweeney was unhappy with the way things were trending for his team but it was only a precursor to the biggest shockwave of the week.
On Friday Sweeney truly shook things up when he made the stunning decision to place the aforementioned David Backes on the waiver wire as well, effectively making Backes available to any team in the NHL that wanted him. The move was stunning if only due to the fact that we are still only a few years removed from the from the 5 year, $30 million, deal that Backes signed with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent in 2016, but the sobering reality of what comes next may be the most difficult aspect of the move for Backes himself.
In spite of the fact that he remains a relatively useful player the fact of the matter is that there is simply no team in the National Hockey League that will be willing to claim Backes on waivers. Even though it would cost them nothing in return to claim him the veteran forward comes at a cap hit of $6 million per season and still has one more year on his deal after this current season is over. That effectively takes every team in the NHL, obviously including the Bruins themselves given their recent decision, out of the running to have Backes on their roster. The Bruins will only save $1 million by demoting the veteran forward to the American Hockey League but it appears as though the Bruins now value that limited cap space more than they value the potential contributions Backes can make to their roster at the NHL level.
Bruins insider Joe Haggerty believes that Backes could very well be headed to a buyout after this season has concluded, and that says a great deal about how the Bruins view him at this time.