As the NHL trade deadline passed Monday afternoon, it was a quiet deadline for the Boston Bruins in terms of making a big splash. Two moves by Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney in the final three days of the deadline landed two forwards. On Friday, they acquired right wing, Ondrej Kase, from the Anaheim Ducks. Monday, they made a second deal in 72 hours with the Ducks, acquiring left wing Nick Ritchie for Danton Heinen. No big-name scorer was added to the roster, which means Boston believes that they are happy with the makeup of the roster going forward.
Sweeney failed to land one of the prizes on his trade target board. Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers signed a contract extension to remain in the Big Apple. Tyler Toffoli, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Zucker, and Blake Coleman found a home with other clubs through trades. Despite no big-name acquisition, Sweeney did improve the team depth-wise.
Arguably the best line in hockey, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak will remain intact on the first line for the Bruins. Pastrnak leads the league with 45 goals and is in the running for the Hart Trophy and Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy. Marchand is tied for third in the league with 54 assists, just 10 away from tying his career high from last season. Quietly, Bergeron is putting together a solid season on the line with 29 goals and 24 assists.
The top line also anchors the second-ranked power play in the NHL, which has been a big key to the team’s success. Pastrnak has 19 power-play goals and 17 assists. Bergeron has 10 goals with the man advantage with nine assists. Marchand rounds out the first power-play unit with five goals and 15 assists.
The second line is where the Bruins will start off Kase next to David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Kase has 7 goals and 16 assists for Anaheim this season and isn’t going to jump off the page as a big name to help the production in the top-six for the Bruins. He does fill a need as a right-handed shot and a change of scenery out of Anaheim could do him some good.
A 20-goal scorer two seasons ago, Kase has been out since early February with what the Ducks described as an illness. Look for the Bruins to work him slowly in on the second line and possible power play time with the second unit.
Ritchie (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) will be a physical addition to the third line with center Charlie Coyle. In 41 games with the Ducks this season, he has eight goals (three on the power play) and 11 assists. Over the last month since the All-Star break, the Bruins have shown an increase in their physical play and toughness. Ritchie fits in with that style of play as he has 78 penalty minutes this year.
Ritchie will begin on the left wing on the third line with Anders Bjork sliding over to the right wing. To get Ritchie, Heinen was sent back to Anaheim with his seven goals and 15 assists. In what was an unproductive year for Heinen, he was a non-factor too many times, especially when the Bruins were lacking secondary scoring to help out the top line. He showed promise two years ago a rookie, but with his recent play, he was heading down the road of a healthy scratch by coach Bruce Cassidy. Not what the Bruins had in mind for the 24-year-old.
In acquiring Ritchie, Sweeney adds some size and strength to a Bruins team that has been lacking the toughness at times this season. Over the last month since the All-Star break, they have become more physical and Ritchie brings a presence that will fit right into that.
On Boston’s fourth line, look for a combination of Sean Kuraly, Karson Kuhlman and Chris Wagner on either wings with Par Lindholm at center.
The big splash to fill the second-line right wing didn’t happen for Sweeney and the Bruins. Last year, he got Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild and Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils at the deadline. At the time, neither player raised many eyebrows, but they turned out to be big contributors in the playoffs on a run to the Stanley Cup Final. Maybe Sweeney struck it good again with Kase and Ritchie. They will find out over the final 19 regular-season games and during what they hope is a long playoff run.