When the Boston Bruins acquired Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in February of 2020, they were hoping that he could slide in on the second line with David Krejci and supply much-needed secondary scoring.
Unfortunately, that did not happen between the season being paused shortly after Boston acquired him because of the coronavirus pandemic and the restart at the Toronto playoff bubble where Kase struggled.
When the NHL announced what the 2020-21 regular season would look like, including new realigned divisions and a shortened 56-game schedule, the Bruins were hoping that Kase would come back ready to go, healthy and that they would get the version of Kase they were hoping they were getting last February.
Once again, that did not happen as Kase was injured in the second game of the season against the New Jersey Devils with an “upper-body” injury and would not be seen again until the end of the season. His return lasted just 6:49 as he was injured again and was never seen again in the regular season or the playoffs.
When the Bruins acquired Kase, they sent forward David Backes out West, along with defensive prospect Axel Andersson and a draft pick. Kase has played in just nine regular-season games for the Black and Gold the last two seasons. With his three-year, $7.8 million contract expiring this summer, Kase, whose contract carried a $2.6 million cap hit, is a restricted free agent.
What do the Bruins’ do with Kase?
As a restricted free agent, Kase is eligible for a $2.6 million qualifying offer, but is there a team in the NHL that would be willing to give that to a player with his injury history recently and lack of production? I don’t really see it unless it’s a team in rebuild mode or maybe the Seattle Kracken, looking for some young talent.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has several free agents of his own, including Kase, that some big decisions need to be made on. In terms of Kase, do the Bruins offer Kase a $2.6 million qualifying offer? I’m not sure if he is worth it for a team that is clearly going into a win-now mode with their again core.
If they do, then the Bruins would be banking on the fact that they first off, they think he’s healthy enough to withstand a full season, as well as they are confident that the 25-year-old could give them production on what would be most likely the third line and he could become a 20-goal scorer that he was in 2017-18.
What the Bruins should consider doing if they are going to offer Kase a contract is offer a one-year deal, between $1-2 million to give him an opportunity to show that he’s healthy and able to produce. If he declines, then let him walk and see what he can get in the open market. It probably won’t be much better than what the Bruins offer. If it is, then so be it.