Calgary Flames Trade Rumour: Pursuing David Backes Type Player


The Calgary Flames name continues to creep into trade rumours, and Sportsnet Hockey Insider Elliotte Friedman keeps fanning those flames. On Sportsnet 960 Radio in Calgary yesterday, Friedman spoke about the type of player that the Flames are looking to acquire.

“I’m going to throw another name at you and I know this is going to start a lot of stuff. I’m going to say I don’t think necessarily he’s the guy, but I’m saying he’s the type of guy. Depending on what St. Louis decides to do with David Backes, I could see that being the type of player that Calgary might have some interest in. I’m not saying that they’re going to go out and get David Backes, but he’s the type of player they’re looking at.” Friedman said.

Okay, so you get the picture that the Flames are looking to add a top six forward with size. Backes has posted almost identical point totals over the past three full seasons, scoring 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points last season with the St. Louis Blues. He is 6’3″ and 231 pounds and plays a very solid two way game.

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However, Friedman is just painting the picture of the type of player that the Flames would be interested in and not necessarily stating that the Blues will be moving Backes. Surely the Blues who are a great team would not be willing to move Backes anyway. However, Friedman goes on to claim the Blues will be moving a veteran core player.

“One of those Blues veterans is at least going to be going. It’s just a matter of who, and what the offer is.” -Friedman noted.

Dec 23, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, sounds like the Flames may not just be in on a player similar to Backes, but are in on trying to pry the center out of St. Louis. Backes would be a huge upgrade to the Flames forward ranks and would help give them the big forward they are looking for that can go head to head against the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and handle the physical toll.

Backes is a legit top line two way center who would play in all situations for the Flames, and could have a 30 goal, 30 assist season in Calgary next season. He would unquestionably make the team better next season, but I still don’t think acquiring Backes is the right idea for the Flames.

Backes is 31 years old and though he could very well have another 30 goal season in him, he likely doesn’t have many of them left. His $4.5 million cap hit is very manageable, but he is a UFA next summer who would at best want a hefty raise and at worst would walk away and sign elsewhere. Worst case scenario here would be trading for Backes and then he signs somewhere else a year later after the Flames give up assets for him.

That’s the other downside to acquiring Backes: the cost of doing so. St Louis may be willing to move him, but they definitely aren’t looking to throw him away. Backes was the first line center for the Blues last season, playing on a fantastic two way line with Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie. The Blues are considered a Stanley Cup favourite heading into next year and are in no hurry to move their big center.

So what would it take to acquire Backes? Well, you would have to knock the socks off the Blues, since they are pushing for a Cup next year and could be convinced to move Backes, but certainly don’t have to trade him.

Feb 28, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Iiro Parkarinen (62) falls into the boards after being checked St. Louis Blues forward David Backes (42) during the first period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Top six centres with size like Backes and the ability to score 30 goals are rarely traded, especially in the offseason. The closest recent comparable to Backes would be Ryan Kesler who was traded by the Vancouver Canucks to the Anaheim Ducks at last year’s draft. He was 29 years old and coming off a 25 goal season. The Ducks sent Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick to Vancouver for Kesler.

The Flames would have to build a similar package to get Backes out of St. Louis. I’d love to see Backes in Calgary next year, but would I like to see them give up a good young forward, good young defenseman and a first rounder for him? Would you like to see Mikael Backlund, Tyler Wotherspoon and the 15th overall pick heading to St. Louis next week?

I didn’t think so. It’s fun to see the Flames are in the middle of all of these trade talks and rumours, but this team needs to be patient right now. It may not be in Brian Burke’s DNA to sit back and wait for the young players to develop, but that is exactly what this team needs to do.

A solid young core of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett makes this an enticing team of the future, but they will need more players their age to develop around them to make this a great team. Dealing off some of that future promise for a 31 year old center who will be a UFA in one year just makes no sense for the Calgary Flames right now.

Burke probably doesn’t see that, but I think Brad Treliving is smart enough to see that this team needs patience more than it needs a top six player on the wrong side of 30 that will force you to mortgage your future to acquire.

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