Boston Bruins

Dec 9, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Backes (42) gets set for a face-off during the first period against the New York Islanders at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff,

The Maple Leafs just showed how hard it is to move bad contracts in the NHL these days. In the case of Bruins forward David Backes, they may not be able to move the contract for anything.

Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic posted a new column on Saturday about the Bruins’ need to get Backes’ contract off the books, and how much harder it just became. One assistant GM described the contract as “impossible to move”, adding that “[a trade] would [require] a high-end pick plus a prospect.”

That’s because the Leafs have successfully purged an unwanted contract of their own by sending Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. Problem for Toronto is that they had to attach a 2020 first-round pick and seventh-rounder to Marleau in order for the Hurricanes to take him on. Carolina sent just a sixth-round pick back to the Leafs.

Apr 13, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Patrick Marleau (12) and Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) skate after the puck during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Is it worth it for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to give up their 2020 first-rounder in order to unburden himself of Backes, contract, which pays the 35-year-old $6 million over the next two seasons? It’s not worth buying him out, because that would only save $333,333 in 2019-20 and add dead money to the 2022 and 2023 caps. Burying him in Providence next season would only save $1.075 million.

The latter option may be the most likely at this point. That’s unless Sweeney bites the bullet and jettisons a first-round pick and perhaps even a prospect along with Backes to clear up the space he needs. Re-signing restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are among his top priorities. And if he wants to add a legitimate top-six talent next season on top of that, ridding himself of Backes’ $6 million cap hit is imperative.

But as the Leafs and Hurricanes deal illustrated, it will take a tough decision and a major sacrifice to make that a reality. The Bruins can probably retain all three RFAs without moving Backes, so it’s possible that Sweeney and the B’s are stuck riding out his contract.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

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