Backes

 

Sure, the title has little to do with the content, but being able to work movie references into article titles always make me happy.

 



The St. Louis Blues appeared to be a bit reluctant when it came to matching the three-year, $7.5 million offer sheet given to Backes by the Vancouver Canucks. Backes was coming off a decent 2007-2008 campaign (13 goals and 18 assists), but with so much young talent coming up through the system, the Blues had to weigh the pros and cons of a significant overpayment (at the time) for a solid, two-way player with decent upside.

 

Backes has been arguably the most consistent and impressive Blue this season, and is making John Davidson and company (as well as Mike Gillis and Vancouver's pro scouting) look very smart for giving him all that money. Fantasy owners should be just as happy, as Backes is having a season to remember.

His current numbers project to an impressive 28 goals, 51 points, and close to 200 shots on goal over 82 games. Couple that with his physical edge (on pace for 180 PIM), and Backes is getting up there with the Scott Hartnells and Brenden Morrows in terms of physical, balanced wingers in the fantasy hockey world. He brings a physical edge that the Blues desperately need up front, so expect Backes to really benefit from playing with all of the skilled young talent coming up through the St. Louis system over the next few years.

 

It is tough to say what his upside over the next half decade is, but Backes has the drive and talent to be a consistent 25-30 goal guy. As he matures do not expect the high PIM totals (they should drop a bit, like Morrow in Dallas after he was given the captaincy). At some point in the next few years Backes could put up a 30-goal, 70-point season with 100-150 PIM and lots of bone-jarring hits.

 

Elsewhere, the Hart Trophy is developing into a three horse race (at least in my opinion). Alex Ovechkin, Zach Parise, and Evgeni Malkin are all deserving of being named 'Most Valuable Player,' and these last few weeks are going to decide who prevails. Although Ovechkin and Malkin have superior statistics across the board (including more ice time), I like Parise as the dark horse to beat out the two dominant Russians. Ovechkin and Malkin both average close to 23 minutes per game, while Parise sees 18 minutes. It is hard to discredit a player for playing too much, as being able to perform at a high level for more minutes is obviously a beneficial skill. However, Parise must not be punished for not playing the same minutes either. If his ice time was bumped up two to three minutes more per game, his stats would undoubtedly rise (up to a point). Breaking down the ice time further, Parise sees around 3:30 per contest of PP time, while Ovechkin and Malkin each see over two minutes more each game. Any of the three would be extremely deserving Hart Trophy winners, that much is not debatable.


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