David Backes, noted puppy-saver, proud American wrecking-ball and former STL captain is now a Boston Bruin.
The 32-year-old forward has today signed a 5-year deal that if completed will see him be a Bruin until the age of 37.
At $6 million a year, it's a significant investment by Don Sweeney and the Bruins in a player who they hope will provide a powerful, versatile option in the top six.
At 6'3 and 220lbs Backes is a big, strong power forward who is arguably the "prototypical" Bruins type player. He's also more than willing to mix it up physically, which effectively means he could center any one of the top three lines to equal effect depending on what look the Bruins want to bring to the forward lines
The deal itself is contentious to some - paying a player with a history of concussions $6 million a year over 5 years when they're 32 at the beginning of the contract is a bold move...to some it would smack of desperation. But with FA developing, right now we need to see what else the B's have planned before we can perhaps properly judge the astuteness of it.
Speculation has already begun on how Backes will be used - the player himself can play both C and RW (he mainly plays the first for the Blues and the second for Team USA, historically) but his best and most comfortable spot is probably up the middle.
That means that time could have run out for David Krejci. In fact, with the Bruins looking for a number one defenseman and STL's Kevin Shattenkirk a top target with the B's, now would seem to be one of those deals that makes almost too much sense.
A comparison of Krejci and Backes shows that the two players provide a similar benefit, if different styles.
It's nip and tuck between the two of them, and more than likely needs a far more detailed analysis than is possible on instant reaction...but the very fact that they are pretty close to each other and both on big contracts means that this town probably isn't big enough for both of them.
So what are the B's options? They're simple, really. Keep both, or trade Krejci.
1. KEEP BACKES AND KREJCI
This one would more than likely see Backes playing RW on the top line with Bergeron and Marchand while Krejci continues to center the 2nd. Any other move here seems not to make a huge amount of sense, although the idea of David Pastrnak as a top-line player with Marchand and Bergeron is certainly what you'd call appealing.
The trouble is, it puts Backes out of position, leaves the Bruins with two massive contracts going forward and...well, it doesn't appear to make sense give the B's suddenly have a very strong NHL center as a trade chip that they can use to get themselves a top defenseman.
2. TRADE KREJCI
You have to think that this is the play that makes most sense for the Bruins now. Krejci is 30, on a monster $7.25 million cap hit and although he's two years younger, that ironically makes him more attractive to any potential suitors.
NHL teams are always looking for skilled playmaking C's and the Czech would likely command a high price in the trade market, particularly for a team looking for a new number 1 center as...ironically, Kevin Shattenkirk's St Louis Blues are right now.
This is the option the B's have to take...the other one, trading Ryan Spooner and having either Backes or Krejci center the 3rd line, would commit a huge amount of the salary cap up the B's middle, which just doesn't seem logical.
Backes arriving means the clock just started ticking LOUDLY on someone's time in Boston - and it's far more likely and makes far more strategic sense that that player should be David Krejci. Backes will likely be earmarked straightaway for the 2nd-line C role, and provides a different look to the Bruins top six than it has with Krejci playing up the middle.
If the Bruins management can find a way to make a roster with both Krejci and Backes on it than it would certainly make for a much stronger forward group...but with the pressing needs elsewhere, this looks like a move that will see Krejci sacrificed on the altar of defensive necessity.
That's the clever play. Whether or not it's the one the B's will make, we will see in the coming days.