Nashville Predators Free Agency Preview: David Backes

St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) in action. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) in action. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators might take a look at David Backes. His time with the St. Louis Blues may have come to an end.

David Poile has already once addressed the Nashville Predators depth at the center position, most notably by trading Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen and giving the franchise its first true number one center in the process. However, the Predators still have a situation with depth down the middle and are surely looking at all of their options this off-season.

Only Ryan Johansen and Colton Sissons are locks at their position when the pucks drops for the 2017 NHL season. Johansen is the undisputed number one center and has already settled in nicely at the position while Sissons has inherited his spot in the middle of the 4th line after the Predators announced that they will not be re-signing Paul Gaustad in favor of a more youthful player at the position.

That leaves Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro to work the faceoff dot on the 2nd and 3rd lines and considering that Mike and Mike will both be 36 when the new season starts, time is running out before both players will need to be replaced.

Factor in an abysmal playoff performance from Mike Ribeiro that lead to him being a healthy scratch for two games in Nashville’s second-round series with the San Jose Sharks, and it’s not a stretch to suspect that “Ribs” could be getting ousted from the position, and even the team altogether, sooner rather than later if the Predators can find who they’re looking for in free agency.

The Backes Scenario

Now this is the part where David Backes comes in. A few days ago, Blues GM Doug Armstrong announced that signing Left Winger Jaden Schwartz to a new deal takes precedent before anything else on his off-season to-do list, and that includes re-signing their captain to a new deal. The talented left winger is due for a sizable pay raise after already eclipsing the 50 point mark twice in his young career and figures to hit that mark with consistency if he can manage to stay healthy.

Now figure in a huge new contract to Russian phenom Vladimir Tarasenko and a slew of other players in need of new contracts now and in the near future, and Backes is quickly being pushed out of St. Louis as the team gets younger.

It seems like the Blues parting ways with their captain is more of an inevitability than just rumors and speculation at this point. So that being said, let’s look at things from the Predators point of view and what David Backes could offer Nashville if and when he hits free agency.

Backes By The The Numbers

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Stats Courtesy of

After ten seasons in the NHL, Backes has rarely missed the 20 goal mark outside of a lockout shortened season or as a young rookie and has even hit the 30 goal mark on two separate occasions. While his production did drop significantly this season,  his lowest scoring regular season performance since 2008, Backes found his form again in the playoffs, scoring two game-winning goals in overtime, as he helped the St. Louis Blues reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1992.

As consistent as Backes has been in the goal column, he’s just as formidable in his own end of the ice and was was even a Selke Finalist in 2012 as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.

David Backes: Defensive Stats and Nominations
David Backes: Defensive Stats and Nominations /

Backes is a rare blend of offensive skill, defensive prowess, and consistency. While he doesn’t put up elite offensive numbers on the scoresheet he’s still a premier power forward, few others can play a hard hitting style like he does while still being a goal-scoring menace and strong on the powerplay.

Now the question remains. Should the Predators pursue David Backes if he isn’t re-signed by the Blues?

To Sign Or Not To Sign. That Is The Question.

Absolutely! For the right price. Backes just recently turned 32 and probably still has a few very good years left in him if before his production comes into question. Couple Backes’ strong post-season performance with his regular season consistency over the last few years and it’s not hard to see that the career St. Louis Blue will be expecting, and has earned, a significant raise on his next contract.

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Backes’ last contract was a 5 year deal for $22.5million with an annual cap hit of $4.5million. At 32, Backes is highly unlikely to find a team that will want to sign him for that long again, a 3 or 4-year deal is much more likely. That being said, you can fully expect Backes to fetch between $5-6million per year from a willing suitor.

Unless Backes is willing to settle for somewhere around $5 million, an unlikely scenario, that most likely prices him out of the Predators spending budget, especially with signing Filip Forsberg to a long term deal a major priority this off-season.

Do the Predators sign David Backes?

Possibly but unlikely. Dave Poile is as cost conscience as GMs come and considering there are still several options for free agent centers like Frans Nielsen and Eric Staal, I wouldn’t expect Poile to go on a spending spree for Backes.

Even then the Predators might invest in a scoring winger to round out Nashville’s Top 6 of forwards instead of addressing their needs at center and that means holding onto Mike Ribeiro for now. Wishful thinking aside, Backes would be a huge addition to the Predators depth down the middle and on the powerplay should he sign with Nashville.

We are looking at several Free Agents that the Nashville Predators may be interested in. Browse around the site for more options.