In a surprising move, the Bruins did not give Nick Ritchie or Ondrej Kase qualifying offers, which made them both unlimited free throws when the bell rang on Wednesday afternoon.
The move comes after GM Don Sweeney said last Thursday that he would expand qualifying offers to players, although Taylor Hall has officially signed his official $ 6 million-per-season extension.
Ritchie’s qualifying bid for rights retention would have been $ 2 million, but he could have made more than that out of arbitration after his 15-goal season in 56 games. And with a loggam that is now on the left wing with the return of Hall, it appears that Ritchie is now very much a former Brown. He was a deadline for Danton Heinen of the Ducks two years ago. Coincidentally, Heinen did not offer his $ 2.75 million QO of Anaheim.
Cheeses are another matter. His qualifying offer would have cost $ 2.6 million, a hefty prize for a player who, though talented, missed almost the entire 2020-21 season due to the latest multiple concussion, which occurred in the second game of the season comes in New Jersey. Kase – who was also acquired by the Ducks in a deal that cost the Bs a first round – prospective defender Axel Andersson and David Backes – tried to come back in the second final game of the season, but he had to the stick pulls in the second period.
According to a source, the Bs are still open to signing Kase at a lower price than the qualifying offer once the club can get more clarity on its health. It is believed that Kase is at work and hopes to indeed resume his career.
Time will tell if the Ritchie decision comes back to bite the Bs. The big left wing gave the Bs what they wanted – physicality, presence at the front – but not all the time. He can also be a fearsome fighter, though he has not dropped the gloves too often. The B’s bet that 24-year-old Ritchie, the 10th overall pick in 2014, had a career year in ’21, especially since he spent much of the season on the first power play.
The Bs did not qualify Robert Lantosi, the wing of Providence, either.
Unless the Bs go out and sign a left-wing deal, it would appear they are at least tentatively closely linked with left-winger Jake DeBrusk, who has struggled through a rough ’20 -21 season in which he contracted COVID- 19 and was restricted in 41 games to just five goals, making him a subject of a trade rumor. To supplement the rumors, the B’s is clearly in need of upgrades to the defense.
Meanwhile, with the opening of a free agency on Wednesday, it appears that options for a four-defender left are disappearing.
According to various reports, Alec Martinez will work again with the Golden Knights of Vegas, which is believed to be a three-year agreement at about $ 5 million. And Ryan Suter, who was bought out by the Minnesota Wild and once believed to be at least one of the players the Browns’ fans are looking for as much as he can get. Minnesota Reporter Michael Russo of The Minnesota has reportedly been seeking a four-year deal. It seems priceless for a player who turns 37 in January.
Jamie Oleksiak, who would be a good place to stay next to Charlie McAvoy, left the board early when he signed a huge $ 23 million five-year deal.
What’s left? In terms of robust, punitive kills, there is 6-foot 4, 220-pound defender Derek Forbort, who led the Winnipeg Jets in PK time last season. They could take a chance on 27-year-old Jake McCabe, who suffered a knee injury with the Sabers last February. If McCabe was healthy, he could be much higher in the free agent class this year.
There’s also local old Keith Yandle (Milton), who was bought out by Florida. At 34, he is a talented attacking defender and quarterback, though the B’s biggest need is rather a robust two-way D-man who can handle big minutes in the top four. If they go for Yandle, they will definitely need to get a more defensive blueliner, preferably with some measure.
The B’s did expand the qualifying bids to offer league goalkeeper Zach Senyshyn and Callum Booth. They also signed RFA defender Nick Wolff to a one-year two-way contract with a $ 750,000 NHL cap.