Can the St. Louis Blues resign David Backes after the season? Is it possible? Should it happen? Let’s dig into that as the Blues and The Avalanche (aka the other team Stan Kroenke doesn't care about) battle at Scottrade tonight. There are four games left (three papers if you don’t include this one) at home so let’s make the last few doses before the playoffs count.
David Backes is a true Captain. He has brass balls and talent. The players on this team treat him like he’s Clint Eastwood. I mean 1970’s-80’s cut up and badass looking Clint. Alex Pietrangelo thinks he is the epitome of hard work and tenacity. He is revered on the ice. The man kills penalties and can work the power play. He is one of the best defensive forwards in the National Hockey League and has better hands than most give him credit for. He isn’t just a big body for defensemen to blast a shot off of. He can handle himself in a number of areas and deserves credit for that.
Backes has been in St. Louis for 10 years and has contributed five seasons of 20 or more goals. If he collects another goal in the final six games, he will have his sixth 20 goal season. That’s 204 goals and 56 power play goals mixed in. Keep in mind he has scored 19 goals this seasons while playing mostly on the 2nd and 3rd line with linemates at times have included Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrj Jaskin(both at the same time is unfair). He has proven that he doesn’t have to be a first line guy to make a dent and carry his weight.
Backes turns 32 on May 1st (aka the day Blues fans hope the team is still engaging in playoff activity) and is going to demand a contract that exceeds three years and six million dollars per season. There’s a guy named Ryan Kesler who scooped up a monstrous and utterly ridiculous contract from the Vancouver Canucks. He is now with the Ducks and will turn 32 in August. Kesler isn’t as good as Backes. His point total has dropped off since a great 2010-11 season and Kesler’s overall game isn’t as strong as Backes. Last July, Kesler signed a 6 year extension worth over 42 million. An average of 6.8 million dollars. DRINK!
Backes would be stupid if he didn’t reach for something like that this summer. Why would he not? Let’s spare ourselves the hometown discount talk. It’s fluffy nonsense. It only happens once in a long while in this world of sports and I doubt it happens here. Backes has got one big contract left in him so he is going to reach for that 4-6 year deal and some team will give it to him. Minnesota needs a Backes and could give it to him. Philadelphia and other Eastern Conference teams could. He’s got some fight left and could be valuable to other teams with more room under the cap to play around with.
Backes turned down the three year/15 million-ish extension in training camp last summer so he isn’t taking that deal. The question isn’t really should the Blues bring back Backes. It is more like this: Can the Blues bring back Backes? If this team chokes again or falls short of the Stanley Cup Final(that’s the goal baby and always should be), can the team afford to invest long term in a guy who is a solid regular season performer but disappears in the playoffs? Can they invest 6 million a season in Backes with an offense that, overall, still struggles to compute? Can they re-sign Kevin Shattenkirk and Jaden Schwartz? Alex Steen after his contract expires? You have to think about where this franchise is headed and if Backes fits into that vision.
He proved he can play on different lines but do you really want to pay a 2nd or 3rd liner 6 million bucks? Think about that. We all have a tiny crush on the guy and think he’s great. The man does great things in the community and is a good guy to have around. The players love him. Coaches love his versatility. He’s a solid player. If he’d take the three year deal, the fit would be an easy fit. The longer contract could hamper this team down the road and makes it hard to negotiate with the goals of your team. Can Backes keep producing 60 point seasons and remain a useful tool on special teams for another 5 years?
I like Backes and what he brings. He’s a special breed of player. However, I do not think the Blues can afford to pay him Kesler type money. Vancouver didn’t and traded Kesler before his previous deal expired. The Blues refused to trade Backes this past February, which can be halfway telling of a possible return. Still, I think Backes is going to demand a huge contract and will get it from another team. He deserves it.
The Blues just can’t afford to give it to him.