When we awoke on Friday, July 1, we had a feeling that it was going to be a good day. Sure, shortened workdays and an extended holiday weekend helps with that cause. However, the primary reason for this “power of positivity” was that free agency arrived in the National Hockey League.
In an effort to keep pace with the rest of the league, the Boston Bruins were a busy bunch on this day as they made a variety of signings to bolster the roster for this coming year.
The Bruins signed American-born center David Backes to a five-year contract worth $30 million. The 6’3″, 221 lbs. forward has already played 700 plus games in the NHL and is a proven durable player. His rugged and intense style (along with his ability to score) will fit well here in Boston.
The Backes signing came soon after word came that the B’s lost Loui Eriksson to the Vancouver Canucks to a deal believed to be worth $36 million over six years.
The Bruins are now absolutely stacked down the middle of the ice with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Ryan Spooner. With Backes in the mix, not one of those players is a guy that belongs on the fourth line.
The solution? Trade Krejci. And the potential suitor? Why not St. Louis?
The arrival of the former St. Louis Blues captain here in Boston leaves a gaping hole at center for that team. In relation, the Bruins are still coveting defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. A trade between both sides involving those two players will solve the problem for both teams. Spooner could handle that increased role if necessary and the Bruins would have improved their team without circulating the entire NHL to do so.
If the Bruins decide to keep all four centers, Backes can play right wing as well. However, he should not be playing the wing with the amount of money he is going to be making starting next season.
In addition to Backes, who scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games last season, the Bruins also inked backup goaltender Anton Khudobin to a two-year, $2.4 million deal and re-signed defenseman John-Michael Liles to a one-year, $2 million contract after arriving at the trade deadline last spring.
Khudobin spent parts of two seasons with the Bruins, racking up 15 starts during that span. He spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks, posting a .909 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average in nine games.
As for Liles, this deal is extremely team friendly and that would allow the B’s to scratch him on a regular basis if the team decides to remain active in replenishing the blue line.
In addition to those signings, the Bruins inked forward Riley Nash to a two-year contract. The 27-year-old has played all 242 games with the Carolina Hurricanes after originally being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. He posted nine goals and 13 assists in 64 games last season for the Hurricanes. Like Backes, Nash can play the wing as well. At 6’1″, he is deceptively quick and can contribute at both ends of the ice. Nash will be a solid depth forward to fill out the bottom two lines.
We certainly rip B’s general manager Don Sweeney for a lack of trade activity, and rightfully so. As for free agent signings? He has been as aggressive as any other general manager in the NHL.
Is anyone else wiped out yet? We are just 24 hours into free agency. Things are just getting started.