Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Backes Mistake

The opening of the free agency market is a crazy time in the NHL. It is a full time job to stay on top of all the signings and trades that are going on. It is not a time to make moves that are doomed to failure. Despite that, new Vancouver Canuck GM Mike Gillis made such a move yesterday.

Gillis signed St Louis Blue David Backes to a three year, $7.5 million offer sheet. While I believe that signing restricted free agents can be a good move under this CBA, it is only a useful thing to do when you have a chance of getting the player you signed. To have a chance to get the player you signed, he must be signed for such a large amount of money that his current team is hesitant to match the offer sheet. This could be because of budget or salary cap reasons. Matching the offer sheet would put the team in a financial problem and limit their possible future moves. This means that most offer sheets would have to be for quite large financial amounts and thus are only worthwhile on the best of the restricted free agents.

Nevertheless, Mike Gillis signed David Backes to an offer sheet. Backes is a pretty good player. In his first full NHL season last year he scored 31 points in 72 games. That was the seventh highest total on the St Louis Blues. He is not one of the elite restricted free agents, but he is a good player who will likely have a solid NHL career.

St Louis is not a team expected to spend to the salary cap and even with the Backes signing have more than $7 million in room. There is little financial pressure placed on the Blues with this move. They are annoyed with the prospect of paying Backes more than they otherwise would have, but it is still a pretty obvious choice for them to match the offer. They made that decision very quickly.

Making a move that has no realistic chance at success is not a good move for a GM. Mike Gillis made such a move signing David Backes to an offer sheet. It is a move that seems to show that he is not ready for his GM position. For the sake of the Vancouver Canucks, I hope he does not make any more moves that are pointless and doomed to failure.

Here is TSN's story on the Canucks signing of Backes to an offer sheet and the Blues quick matching it.

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