As the 2020 NHL trade deadline approached, the Boston Bruins made two key moves in an attempt to bolster their roster. General manager Don Sweeney acquired forward Ondrej Kase on Feb. 21 and then traded for forward Nick Ritchie on Feb. 24.
Analyzing Boston Bruins Acquisitions
In two different deals with the Anaheim Ducks, Bruins management decided to part ways with Danton Heinen, Axel Andersson, David Backes, and a 2020 first-round draft pick in exchange for Kase and Ritchie.
The Bruins believed they gained size and a physical forward in Ritchie and a finesse, offensive-minded player in Kase.
Performance Since the Trades
Since arriving in Boston, Ritchie has appeared in seven games totalling one goal and one assist. He has immediately made an impact on the ice with his physical presence laying 23 hits with one fight and 19 penalty minutes.
Ritchie’s presence was on full display in Boston’s spirited matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning, laying five hits in a game that ended with 100 penalty minutes between the teams.
Kase has had a smaller impact so far with the Bruins. He has appeared in six games with one assist. Kase is not known for his physical play adding just four hits and four penalty minutes. However, he recently missed time due to injury and is still looking to find his role in Boston.
Kase has shown solid work along the walls and a good sense of the game. He may settle into a contributing role in time.
Moving Forward With The Boston Bruins
With the NHL season currently suspended, it’s unclear how anything will turn out. This leaves two scenarios moving forward when it comes to analyzing Ritchie and Kase.
The 2020 Season Resumes
In this scenario, Kase and Ritchie would continue their first season with Boston. The Bruins have all the pieces to make a deep run and are hoping the additions of Kase and Ritchie work out like the additions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson in 2019.
Ritchie figures to play a physical role for the Bruins in the postseason. Physicality is important in the playoffs, as the Bruins found out after being pushed around by the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Bruins hope Kase can stay healthy and find his offensive game. It would be adding another weapon to a loaded arsenal of offence. Some scoring from Kase to support the likes of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Jake Debrusk would tremendously help the Bruins.
If Ritchie or Kase don’t succeed in the postseason, it ultimately didn’t cost the Bruins too much in exchange. Backes was struggling to stay in the Bruins lineup when healthy and Heinen was unable to be an offensive threat for most of the season.
The 2020 Season Does Not Resume
In this scenario, the 2019-20 NHL season ends as is. No conclusion to the regular season or postseason. If this is the case, the Bruins 2020 trade deadline acquisitions finish the season with just 13 games played as a Bruin between the two.
However, neither of them have expiring contracts. Both Ritchie and Kase won’t become restricted free agents until after the 2020-21 season. This means that both players would get another shot at it in Boston, and this time a full season.
Kase and Ritchie are under contract through next season at a total average-annual-value of $4,098,925.
Backes and Heinen would’ve cost Boston a combined average-annual-value of $8,800,000.
The Bruins retained 25 percent ($1.5 million) of the Backes contract, meaning they reduced their cap hit by $3,201,075 for the 2020-21 season while getting slightly better on the ice.
While the acquisitions of Ritchie and Kase weren’t groundbreaking moves, they already look like great ones. Around the trade deadline, the Bruins were rumoured to be in the running for New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri or Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Toffoli.
At the time, Toffoli and Kreider were on their final year under contract (Kreider has since signed an extension). Palmieri is under contract through the 2020-21 season.
If the NHL season does not resume this year, trading for Kreider or Palmieri would’ve resulted in them becoming free agents after just seven games.
Instead, the Boston Bruins acquired two depth players that are under contract for the following season at a low price. Moves that look smarter as each day without hockey passes.
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