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Summer Signing Series – Backes

As the summer free agency period comes to a close MPS is taking this opportunity to review the biggest signings of the summer from a purely financial perspective. To be fair to all the teams and players we’ll be looking at we’ll be using the same set of base assumptions throughout the series. Principally these assumptions are:

– The performance metrics we want to pay for are:

o Goals (40%) and Assists (60%) when the players are out at Even Strength or on the Power Play.
o Team Goals Against (100%) when the player is on the ice killing penalties.

– The salary cap starts this season at $73 million and increases 5%/year for future years (obviously this is up for debate but it basically reflects flat revenue growth and the assumption the NHLPA uses its escalator clause).

Signing #6 – David Backes

Next in our series is Boston Bruins’ newest Forward, David Backes. Backes is a 10 year, NHL veteran and the former St. Louis Blues’ captain.

The Details

On July 1st Backes signed a 5 year, $30 million contract with the Boston Bruins which works out to an AAV of $6 million/season. In the season before with St. Louis Blues Backes had 21 goals and 24 assists.

Breaking it Down

As explained in our earlier blog, point totals are fine but valuation needs to be done using rates (if this doesn’t make sense to you please check out that other post because the rest of this article/series takes it for granted) so let’s take a look at Backes’ rates:

EVEN STRENGTH Last 3 Years Last Season
Goals/60 Min 0.63 0.47
Assists/60 Min 1.14 0.90
POWER PLAY Last 3 Years Last Season
Goals/60 Min 2.92 2.92
Assists/60 Min 1.69 1.59
PENALTY KILL Last 3 Years Last Season
Team Goals Against/60 Min 5.48 5.42

Compared to the other forwards in this series, Backes’ Even Strength performance comes in lower essentially across the board. Where we do see Backes excel though is in his Power Play metrics. Compared to others in this series (Okposo, Ladd, Lucic, and even Stamkos!) he has the highest goals per 60 Min of Power Play time at almost 3 goals for every 60 minutes of power play.

Ice Time

The other key factor to determining a player’s worth is how much ice time they get (again if you haven’t read this article yet you may want to do that so you can see the logic behind this). In Backes’ case he has played the following:

ICE TIME Last 3 Years Last Season
Even Strength 14.05 14.20
Power Play 2.51 2.38
Penalty Kill 1.92 1.81

Backes is fairly average when it comes to Even Strength and Power Play time on ice. Where we really see him get more of the spotlight is during Penalty Kill time. His ice time here clocks in at the highest in this series to date. This is really no surprise as his large stature and rugged playing style makes him an ideal Penalty Kill player.

The Forecast

Just like the rest of our posts we are going to start with a baseline forecast that assumes Backes simply plays exactly the same way and exactly the same minutes as he has for the last 3 years.


At this starting point, we already see that this contract might be a slight overpay based on these metrics. What we also need to consider when forecasting is the fact that Backes is no spring chicken at this point in his career. He is starting this 5 year contract at the age of 32 which means he will be 36 in the final year of his term. To quote Backes when asked about this, “I’m 32 not 52”. Don’t worry Backes we do know this, but I think it is still safe to assume your best years are likely not ahead of you. Also, when we compare his stats from last season to the last 3 years, with the exception of Even Strength Ice Time, every number declined in value showing that his last season was definitely a lower valued season compared to the other 2 years in the 3 year period.
With that, it is safe to say that we should probably run the salary calculator again forecasting his last year of performance instead of the last 3 years.


This might give us a closer look at what his performance is worth, based on these metrics. Although based on the specific metrics of goals and assists, it still might be a touch on the high side as we can probably assume more of a decline in performance over the 5 years. That said, there are other factors that we haven’t included in this analysis that might make up for this overpay. Backes’ larger, hard hitting stature is definitely an asset for the Bruins. He also was the captain of St. Louis which in itself demonstrates strong leadership qualities, one intangible metric that is not quantified here.
Based on our summer series basic metrics, Backes’ verdict shows up as an overpay. That said, the Bruins likely would choose a few different metrics in our salary calculator to value Backes which would likely better justify his contract amount. If anything, we know he is certainly an entertaining player to watch.



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Summer Signing Series – Backes

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