David Backes will not be reporting to the AHL, according to the Bruins, two weeks after the veteran forward was placed on waivers.
Bruins GM Don Sweeney announced Thursday that the two parties have agreed for Backes to continue sitting out.
“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.”
Backes has one goal and three points this season in 16 games, while playing a career low 8:33 per night. He played only 43 AHL games in his career, which came after leaving Minnesota State University in 2005-06.
“We’re going to look at younger guys and just felt at the end of the day, you do what’s best for your team, what makes you the best team,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after Backes was waived. “Ultimately [Sweeney] put him on waivers, feeling that was the best thing. I know David doesn’t agree with the situation, but that’s the decision we made [was] for the good of the team. I respect David as a person, as a player. We just felt we had better options, and that’s how we’re going to go forward and see how it plays out.”
There is no clarity about Backes’ future, however, beyond Sweeney’s statement. We don’t know if he plans to retire — he has one year left on a contract that pays him $4M in salary this season and next — or if a trade could come or if Backes will continue to sit out until the possibility of returning to the Bruins’ lineup appears.
As we looked previously, a summer buyout would put $4M on the Bruins’ salary cap in 2020-21 and $1M on it for 2021-22, per Cap Friendly. With the money still owed to him, it’s hard to believe Backes would retire right now.
Backes carries a $6M NHL cap hit and is currently putting $4.925M on their books with an AHL buried deal. Sweeney has some gymnastics to do in the future to keep the team competitive while navigating a difficult cap picture. Jake DeBrusk is a restricted free agent this summer and Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Jaroslav Halak can hit the UFA market. Those dollars will add up.