The St. Louis Blues might be without one of their best young forwards for three months, but they won’t have to worry about losing one of their other ones until 2016 at the earliest. That’s because the team signed David Backes to a five-year, $22.5 million extension that will constitute a $4.5 million annual salary cap hit beginning next season.
The 26-year-old forward would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency once the last year of his current contract expired after this season.
Backes brings a nice mixture of elite size (he is listed at 6’3″, 225 lbs.), mean-spirited play (439 PIM in 296 career games) and offensive prowess to the table. He scored a career-high 31 assists but only scored 17 goals for 48 points last season after his breakthrough 2008-09 campaign in which he scored 31 goals and 23 assists for 54 points while compiling 165 PIM. So far this season, Backes scored two goals and four assists for six points in 14 games while earning 32 PIM. His most memorable achievement might be the fact that he made the 2010 U.S. Olympic hockey team, though.
His game reminds me quite a bit of Vancouver’s Alex Burrows, though I don’t think Backes is quite the “pest” that Burrows is. He’s also not going to be quite the bargain, either; that $4.5 million contract will make Backes the Blues’ second most expensive player behind Andy McDonald next season. (McDonald’s annual cap hit is $4.7 million until it expires after the 2012-13 season.)
Here is a quick comment from Backes regarding the signing.
“I am ecstatic to have this deal signed and to be a Blue for many years to come,” Backes said. “My wife and I love this city and these fans have been nothing but great to us. This is a great organization to play for, from top to bottom, and we expect to be a top team in this League.”
The Blues are banking on Backes becoming one of the league’s top power forwards as this deal kicks into gear next season and beyond.