The Boston Bruins made big news on July 1st when they inked former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes to a five-year, $30 million contract. He’s exactly the type of player that Don Sweeney and company have been looking for to bring a bit more hard-nosed hockey to Boston.
The Backes signing comes one year after the Bruins made a move for a similar player, Matt Beleskey, who, as my colleague Kyle Benson noted, plays a very similar style of hockey as Boston’s new big man. After taking over the team, Sweeney felt that Boston lacked the rough and tough players that it needed, which led to both a solid acquisition in Matt Beleskey, as well as the mindless trade that brought Zac Rinaldo to Boston. It’s a theme that Sweeney is continuing to work this off-season, as is apparent with the Backes signing.
What Boston plans to do with Backes isn’t exactly certain yet. Some have speculated that the signing would lead to the departure of David Krejci,. However, Backes has also stated that he’s expecting to play third-line center for the Bruins. In either case, Backes may have an opportunity to play alongside Matt Beleskey, which could create quite the duo for the Bruins.
The two forwards play a very similar game – big, strong, in-your-face hockey, typical of the “Big Bad Bruins” of old. If you put the two together, it could lead to the second coming of the famous Bash Brothers – no, not Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, we’re talking Mighty Ducks bash brothers.
Okay, Backes and Beleskey may not quite be enforcers like the Bash Brothers were, but they could have a similar impact for the Bruins. Boston could use a little more grit up front, and the addition of David Backes should provide just that. Add Matt Beleskey into that equation and you could have quite the combo.
Beleskey likes to get his nose dirty in the corners, while Backes has the ability to create space for himself in front of the net. If the two can find their chemistry together, it could be a massive upside for Boston’s forecheck as they look to create scoring opportunities off of offensive-zone turnovers.
If David Krejci does remain in Boston, then Claude Julien could slide Backes into the third line without really shaking up the line combinations at all. It makes plenty of sense for Claude Julien, and I’d imagine the two forwards would enjoy each others company up front.
If that happens, then the Atlantic Division would be smart to keep their head up in the corners.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!