For the second time this week, the Bruins have decided to move on from an underachieving veteran forward. After waiving Brett Ritchie on Wednesday, the Bruins did the same with David Backes on Friday, announcing they had placed the 35-year-old right wing on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to AHL Providence.
Between injury and often being a healthy scratch, Backes has played just 16 games this season and registered one goal and two assists while playing less than nine minutes per game.
Backes is in Year 4 of a five-year, $30 million deal that was questionable from the start, but has only looked worse and worse as he's gotten older and his game has declined.
“We just felt a guy like Kuhly, or maybe Blidh down the road, has more pace to his game to … go that route with David," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, referring to Karson Kuhlman and Anton Blidh. "So you’ve got a [Charis] Wagner in the lineup that plays that banging role on the fourth line, so he bumps into that, bumped into Ritchie moving to the third line. So there was a little bit of roster competition that we felt the other guys were a little ahead of him.
“So that’s how we best handled it. I know David doesn’t agree with the situation. But that’s a decision we made for the good of the team, and I respect David, like I said, as a person, as a player. We just felt we had better options and that’s how we’re going to go forward, see how it plays out.”
While waiving Backes won't totally spare the Bruins from his cap hit, it will save them a little more than $1 million, according to the @bruinscapspace Twitter account. Backes is still on the books for another $6 million next season.
Ritchie cleared waivers on Thursday and is now in Providence. The expectation is that Backes will also clear waivers given that no team will want to take on his contract.
Willing to Blidh
Blidh has just 21 games of NHL experience, played just two NHL games in the past two seasons total and had his exhibition season this year shortended by a shoulder injury that has kept him out all season. He's been skating with Boston, though, since returning from a four-game conditioning stint with Providence and he's very much in Cassidy's plans once the pesky left wing is cleared to play.
“I think when he first played here he added some bite to our lineup in terms of forecheck and annoying people," Cassidy said. "And then he went to Providence and grew his game. I had a young guy down there and I always liked Anton’s puck pursuit, his pace of the game, his ability to get in there, he could finish a little bit. Had some work to do on the walls, tight-area plays to stay up here in full-time. So now he has a real good year finished last year and has a good training camp. And he shows us that he’s really close and then gets hurt unfortunately. So I think that’s where it comes from, that we thought he had made appropriate steps over the last year one, two, three, now to year four where maybe he could push guys in the lineup.”
David Krejci (upper body) is day-to-day. He didn't skate Friday. ... Goalie Daniel Vladar is scheduled to play for Providence on Friday and then rejoin Boston for its trip to Pittsburgh for a game on Sunday. Max Lagace practiced with Boston on Friday. Vladar would back up Jaroslav Halak against the Penguins again.