Bruins sign Backes, Khudobin; re-sign Liles
(David Backes, seen battling with former Bruin Milan Lucic in a November 2014 Bruins-Blues contest, signed a five-year deal with the Black and Gold. Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)
The quest of the Bruins building a roster in hopes of returning to the playoffs after two straight late regular season collapses began with Friday’s free agency frenzy.
Yet, some of the decisions by Don Sweeney are still being questioned, and rightfully so.
Their biggest splash of the day came minutes after the market opened when Sweeney signed David Backes, who spent his first 10 seasons in St. Louis. The signing was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
While Backes brings toughness, a decent scoring touch and a veteran presence to the Bruins’ locker room, the 5-year $30 million contract has to be a bit of a head scratcher for a guy who is on the decline. His drop in point production this year alone — down 16 from his 58-point season in 2014-15 — is an indication of a player entering the back end of his career.
For a power forward, Backes brings his share of wear and tear and at age 32 has logged many miles during his 10-year career. Unless Sweeney has a plan to unload another expensive contract in a trade, like David Krejci, one has to wonder about the investment in Backes.
With Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak entering the final year of their respective contracts, the Bruins may be handcuffed after the Backes signing. That all depends on if Sweeney has something else up his sleeve.
Backes is five years $6M AAV.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2016
Liles back in the fold
With very few marquee defensive names on the free agent market, the Bruins will have their hands full in filling their biggest off-season need.
One of the names that could have hit the market will be back in the Bruins’ fold for another season. John-Michael Liles, who was acquired by Sweeney at the Trade Deadline for a third round pick in last week’s Draft and a fifth rounder in 2017, will be back for the 2016-17 season after signing a one-year deal worth $2 million. The terms of the agreement was first tweeted by Chris Johnston of Rogers SportsNet.
While still a solid puck-moving defenseman, the 35-year-old is best served as a bottom pairing defenseman. But bringing back Liles at the price isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. At the very least, it’s seen as a low-risk, high reward agreement.
Khudobin reunites with Bruins
Over the last two seasons, the backup goaltending situation hampered the Bruins to the point where Tuukka Rask appeared in 134 of a possible 164 games. With that in mind, Sweeney and company went back to the well to reunite with a prior No. 2 behind Rask.
Andon Khudobin, the Bruins’ backup netminder in the 2013 Lockout shortened season, signed a 2-year deal worth $1.2 million as reported by TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) July 1, 2016
During the 2013 season, Khudobin appeared in 14 games with the Black and Gold, posting a 9-4-1 record with a 2.32 goals against average and .920 save percentage. Over the last three years, the 30-year-old appeared in 79 games with the Hurricanes and Ducks, spending the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons with the latter.