When the Boston Bruins square off against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, it will be some of the usual suspects wearing the blue and white – Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Reilly, John Tavares.
But two new faces for Toronto will be quite familiar to Bruins fans.
Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, two former trade deadline acquisitions for the Bruins and members of last year’s team, will be on the Maple Leafs bench tonight. The two left in free agency and signed with Toronto this offseason.
Kase is pencilled in to skate right wing on the third line with David Kampf and Pierre Engvall, while Ritchie is in the fourth line, right wing spot with veterans Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds.
A look back at Ritchie and Kase’s short careers with the Bruins
Ritchie played an effective role at times with the Bruins. He was brought in with the Danton Heinen trade with the Anaheim Ducks. Not exactly known for his scoring ability, Ritchie was acquired to play more of a sandpaper and fighting role.
In that first season, Ritchie played in seven regular season games for the Bruins before the pandemic hit and the NHL had to hit the pause button. He had a goal and an assist in seven games, then a single goal in eight playoff games.
But last season, Ritchie became an effective player on the power play, as he was used as a big body in front of the net. He finished the season with a career-high 15 goals (five on the power play) and 11 assists (four on the PP). Giving up on Heinen still leaves a bad taste in Bruins fans’ mouths, but Ritchie had some flashes of effectiveness in Boston.
It’s been a tough welcome for Ritchie with the Maple Leafs. He’s played up and down the lineup, but most recently has found himself on the fourth line for the most part. He has just one assist in 11 games played thus far with Toronto.
Kase’s time in Boston was a lot less impactful. He came over in the David Backes trade with the Ducks and was supposed to be the answer for the second-line right wing spot. He had 23 points in 49 games with Anaheim at the time of the trade, but injuries derailed his time in Boston.
Over the span of about one and a half seasons, Kase skated in just nine total games with the Bruins, tallying a single point. A lot of potential with Kase, but just could not stay on the ice.
Already Kase has already played in more games with the Maple Leafs than he did with the Bruins. In 11 games this season, he has a goal and an assist.
It will be interesting to get a first-hand look at what these two bring to the Maple Leafs’ lineup. The Bruins will see Ritchie and Kase plenty of times throughout the season with Toronto and Boston in the same division. They will get their first test against two former teammates tonight.