The Boston Bruins have traded forward David Backes, defender Axel Anderson and a first-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ondrej Kase, Frank Seravalli has reported. The Bruins are also retaining 25% of Backes’ salary and cap hit, according to Chris Johnston.
For the Bruins, this deal serves a few purposes as they head into the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline with a big-game hunter mindset.
On the surface, it clears up cap space for the team as Backes still has one year remaining on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. Even with that salary buried in the AHL, it was still a lot of cap space allocated to a player that didn’t have a role on the team.
Scoring just one goal and three points in 16 NHL games this season, Backes wasn’t going to be a contributor on the NHL’s best team in a playoff scenario. Once considered one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL, age and injuries have caught up to the 35-year-old and he will now find himself back in the Western Conference.
Backes is fresh, however, and is still looking to at least crack a roster in the NHL. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too hard for the Ducks to find a place for someone with his leadership ability given how their lineup is currently compiled.
While moving on from a first-round draft pick and the team’s second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft may seem like a hefty price to simply unload a contract, the Bruins were also able to acquire a very good winger in Kase who can immediately step into their middle-six and contribute.
Ducks Acquiring Building Blocks
The Ducks are a team trending towards a full rebuild and acquiring one year of Backes doesn’t seem like that bad of a trade-off for a first-round pick and a player who was so recently taken in the second round.
The 20-year-old Anderson made the jump to North America this season and has scored two goals and 22 points in 41 games as a 20-year-old in the QMJHL. Despite being a right-shot defender and filling a hole that the Bruins had in their prospect system, the Bruins were willing to use him in a deal to avoid touching some of their bigger hitters currently in the system.
For the Ducks, acquiring pieces like Andersson and a first-round pick is just smart asset management with their timeline dictating that winning now simply isn’t in the cards.
Moving on from Kase obviously stings for the Ducks as the 24-year-old is still under contract through the 2020-21 season at a team-friendly cap hit of $2.6 million, but he also was never really utilized in the way fans hoped he would be.
It isn’t that far of a stretch to say that Kase has been the best winger in Anaheim this season despite being lost in the shuffle.
Kase Could Play on the Bruins Second or Third Line
As Conor Ryan of Boston Sports Journal would mention, Kase’s seven goals and 23 points in 49 games certainly don’t jump off the page. Despite this, though, he’s proven to be a very good winger with his underlying numbers holding a lot of promise for what he could be on a good team when healthy.
Kase was able to score 20 goals and 38 points in 66 games in his second season in the NHL in the 2017-18 season and as a natural right-shot winger, he has top-six potential.
With that in mind, the Bruins could have more planned for the deadline with Kase being the perfect option to play on the team’s third line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork rather than their second line alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
Still, he could at least garner a look in their top-six as the potential is there. Another note on Kase that could lead to him playing in the top-six is that he’s got a very good shot which could be exactly what the Bruins want next to Krejci.
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Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.