David Backes’ final moments with the Bruins may have been watching them lose to his former team from the press box.
The 35-year-old had obvious disappointment after missing the last three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The chances of him returning to the Bruins next season might not be great, given his potential for a buyout and the youth they have in the rest of the lineup.
If that was it for Backes in Boston, his final season was somewhat unceremonial, becoming a healthy scratch at times in the second half of the season and going in and out of the lineup during the postseason.
With plenty of time to reflect now, there’s a lot for Backes to decide on his future.
“The six, seven days before, the uncertainty, feelings of possibilities, potential, opportunities, all these different things,” Backes said. “Now missed opportunities. ... It’s a swirl and a whirlwind of emotions that I haven’t fully gripped and I don’t know that I will in the near future.”
Backes posted seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular-season games with the Bruins along with two goals and three assists in 13 postseason contests. He was bumped around the lineup but settled into a second-line role from mid-Columbus series until the final days of the Stanley Cup Final.
He watched the last three games against the Blues, his former team, which was sure to add another level of emotion.
“I don’t know if my situation, all the extra layers helps, hurts,” he said. “That’s my jumble of random thoughts. ... Who our opponent was, not playing the last three games. All those sorts of things.”
Backes is under a five-year contract with a cap hit of $6 million over the next two seasons before he hits unrestricted free agency again.
He would save the B’s only $1.33 million with a buyout, since half of the money he is due over the next two seasons is in the form of a signing bonus.
But it still is tough to see him carving a role with this specific team in the future. They still don’t have a solidified winger for the second line, although they could bump up Charlie Coyle and add another center, go out and get a winger, or hope one of the young guys earns a role.
Either way, a Backes return feels unlikely with the two-week buyout period coming up, and he has a restricted no-trade clause with only eight teams in which he wouldn’t need to approve being traded. He always could expand that list if there’s a taker that would expand his ice time.
He wasn’t in a position to yet project the future Friday.
“I had my exit meeting, they’re smart guys, they know everything is still pretty raw,” Backes said. “48 hours, 36 hours after the end result. To dive too deep into next steps, I think, we didn’t get there, at least in our meetings. I don’t know what that looks like ... I’m in flux at the moment. I guess gotta trust the bigger plan, and that’s where I’m at.”