It looks like St. Louis Blues forward David Backes won't have to call the moving company anytime soon. Earlier today, the Blues announced that they had reached an agreement with Backes to keep the future captain in blue for the next five years to the tune of $22.5 million.
So what has Backes done to earn roughly $4.5 million a year? Well, for starters, he's only a couple years removed from scoring 31 goals. Then there's the whole "Olympic hero" thing. Oh, and he just happens to be the go-to guy when it comes to the team promoting itself, appearing regularly in television and radio campaigns.
"I am ecstatic to have this deal signed and to be a Blue for many years to come," said Backes. "My wife and I love this city and these fans have been nothing but great to us. This is a great organization to play for, from top to bottom, and we expect to be a top team in this league."
This is great news for St. Louis fans. Backes, 26, now in his fifth NHL season, has become a fan favorite for his play on the ice. Not only has he shown in the past that he can score like an elite player, but he's also a physical presence who is not hesitant to stand up for his teammates by dropping the gloves.
Similarly, this is also great news for the Blues organization. Backes could have easily signed for at least $5 million had he reached free agency this summer. The rest of the league knows what he's capable of and he would've been a hot commodity this summer.
After all, he wouldn't have had much competition, as the two most similar players to Backes (see: Patrice Bergeron and Joe Thorton) already signed extension to stay with their respective teams. Need proof? The Blues nearly lost Backes to the Vancouver Canucks two years ago, when he was a restricted free agent. Wisely, though, they matched the offer sheet from the Canucks to keep DB around.
Some people will complain that Backes isn't worth the money. While people are entitled to their opinions, there is more to look at than merely the stats on the back of the hockey card. The reason why the Blues ponied up for Backes are his intangibles. After all, why would a team go around for so long hyping a player up as "captain material" only to let him walk?
If this all seems like I'm putting too much praise on Backes, then I'm sorry. After all, he's my favorite player, so a little bias will tend to slip through. To me he embodies what management is trying to do with the organization: fill the roster with skilled, highly competitive, good character guys.
When you look at a core of Backes, Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie, Eric Johnson, Jaroslav Halak, Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron and Alex Steen, you can't help but feel extreme optimism for what this organization is going to accomplish.