With the trade deadline’s annual arrival, the Blues will have clarification Monday on their roster moving forward into the playoffs. But they aren’t expected to finalize an agreement with forward David Backes, which will lead to some uncertainty in the summer.
Backes, 31, is in the final year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason if a deal is not reached during the season. That appears to be the expected scenario as Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Backes’ representative are not currently negotiating after the camp turned down a reported three-year deal worth $16.5 million. That report came from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier in the season.
Since that time, it’s not believed the two sides have made any headway, or at least not of any significance.
“I’ve had a good chat with David and there is no ongoing dialogue,” said Armstrong. “We had really good conversations over the summer but the feeling was to let the year play itself out and he’s going to be a big part of what we are doing.”
Armstrong stated publicly that he’s not looking to trade his team’s captain, who also possesses a full no trade clause. Backes brings value to the Blues’ playoff run as he owns the third-highest point total on the team (34). With a tally on Sunday, Backes now has 16 goals on the season, which is also third-most on the team.
Because of where the Blues are positioned in the standings --third place in the Western Conference-- trading Backes at Monday’s deadline is unlikely to fit the team’s objective for this season.
“I think when you go into the season in that format, you are hoping to have a good year,” said Armstrong. “We have had a good year. We have positioned ourselves in a good spot. If we were 10th or 11th or 12th spot in the Western Conference, I’d probably be going to him right now and saying, ‘do you want to go to a contending team?’. We are that contending team. Trading David for some form of a draft pick would be an injustice to the player.”
Barring any unforeseen circumstance, negotiations between the Blues and Backes will continue in the offseason. The Blues will have a negotiating window prior to free agency, but it does not give Armstrong much time to close the gap and reach an agreement before the forward hits the open market.
The club is also expecting forward Troy Brouwer to become a free agent in the summer, as a deal is unlikely in-season.