The Boston Bruins have taken care of some business on July 1, signing Max Lagace and Brett Ritchie to one-year contracts and extending Connor Clifton’s contract.
The biggest news of the day for the team so far was the extension for Clifton. This new extension gives him a total of four years on his current deal with an annual cap hit of just $750,000 per season. For the Bruins, the value couldn’t have gotten better.
The 24-year-old blueliner stepped up last season and played in 19 regular-season and 18 postseason games for the Bruins in 2018-19. Despite experiencing his first taste of NHL games, Clifton showed that he was deserving of a full-time role with the Bruins and the team evidently concurred.
Outside of Clifton, the Bruins also signed a goaltender in Lagace who will likely spend the 2019-20 season with the Providence Bruins. The deal carries a $700,000 cap hit and helps the Bruins replenish their depth at the position with Zane McIntyre likely heading elsewhere this offseason.
Lagace has played in 17 games at the NHL level in his career, all coming with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and 2018-19 (16 games in 2017-18 alone). He’s compiled a 6-8-1 record with a .868 save percentage at the NHL level but has general been a bit better at the AHL level. While he doesn’t project to get any sort of NHL ice time, he’s a body for the team in the AHL which is all they needed in this situation.
It’ll be interesting to see how the team divides their goaltending duties now, however, as they do have some young bodies in Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser who both figure to play this season with Providence.
The Bruins would also address their bottom-six and right-winger depth on July 1 as they replaced Noel Acciari, who signed with the Florida Panthers, with Ritchie.
The 26-year-old Ritchie has played for the Dallas Stars for his entire career after debuting in 2014-15. While he did score 16 goals and 24 points in 78 games in 2016-17 with the Stars, he hasn’t had the best career in the NHL to date.
Over the last two seasons, he’s scored 11 goals and 20 points in 124 games. While he may not be the most necessary of signings and likely won’t be given any ice time for free, it’s a generally harmless signing for only $1 million for the 2019-20 season.
If nothing else, Ritchie’s 6-foot-4 and 220-pound frame will give the Bruins some added size, though that shouldn’t be the primary factor in any signing by an NHL team in 2019. If Ritchie can turn things around in Boston and provide depth scoring, there’s nothing wrong with this deal for the cost.
In fairness to general manager Don Sweeney, he’s taken players like Tim Schaller and Chris Wagner in the past and turned them into fan-favorites in Boston regardless of what they had shown in the past.