The Bruins swapped forwards to get more physical, dealing Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks to acquire Nick Ritchie. Nick, whose brother Brett is already in the Bruins organization, is likely to join the team for their home tilt against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
The loss of Danton Heinen will sting a little. Heinen was a great two-way forward who was used to the Bruins system. The British Columbia native also brought a little on offense, tallying 47 points his rookie year but failed to score 40 points each of the past two years, with little else to be regarded. Heinen, a product of Denver University, also had only 22 points to date this season, with a few healthy scratches mixed in.
The 24 year old winger did manage to win some puck battles, but largely was ineffective on offense because his shooting and shot selection were inadequate. His puck management was a tad better than his offensive acumen, and his defensive chops were praised by Bruce Cassidy. However, his plus minus was only around 3, and whether that means his offense is that bad or his defense is not as good as it seems. Heinen also left a lot to be desired with his physicality, and that fact really played out during the Bruins game in Washington, when Washington’s Tom Wilson was basically taking free runs at Bruins star David Pastrnak.
However, the return of Nick Ritchie is a good one. Nick is worlds better than his older brother, Brett, who was waived by the Bruins a while ago. The Ontario native has 19 points in 41 games while playing for Anaheim, including a 4 point game against the Vegas Golden Knights yesterday. Ritchie has not only some offensive skill but also brings physical play to the ledger, and has already tallied 79 hits, 78 penalty minutes, clearly some due to enforcement or fighting.
Additionally, the 24 year old has tallied a plus minus of 3 playing for a team with only 56 points, which clearly means he has some defensive talent. Ritchie will likely slot in on the third line playing on one side of Charlie Coyle or on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly. Ritchie is a natural left wing, so he or Anders Bjork may have to play right wing or one may have to move down to the fourth line.
This trade is more than a one-for-one swap, as it clears up about 1.3 million dollars in cap room for a player who is about the same, if not better, than Heinen and is a better fit on ice with the Bruins. Don Sweeney has struck again. While losing Heinen may hurt in the locker room, it will be beneficial on the ice. It will also help the Bruins cap situation, as Heinen was under contract for next year at a 2.6 million, while Ritchie will only make 1.5 million. Ritchie will also be a RFA at the end of next year, which means the Bruins will likely have first dibs at signing him.
When taking into account both of the deals the Bruins made with the Anaheim Ducks, it should look like this.
Ondrej Kase ,RW, 24 years old. Salary: 2.6 M (RFA), free agent in 2021. 23 points in 58 NHL games.
Nick Ritchie, LW, 24 years old. Salary: 1.5 M (RFA), free agent in 2021. 19 points in 41 NHL games.
David Backes, RW, 35 years old. Salary: 4.5 M (1.5 retained by Bruins), free agent in 2021. 3 points in 16 NHL games
Danton Heinen, LW, 24 years old. Salary: 2.6 M (RFA), free agent in 2021. 22 points in 58 NHL games.
Axel Andersson, D, 20 years old. Salary: 795 K (RFA), free agent in 2022. 0 points in 0 NHL games.
The Ducks are also set to acquire the Bruins first round pick this year. It may be a large price to pay to rid the Bruins of David Backes’ contract, but it may be well worth it. It allows the Bruins to resign all their pending FAs, including Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, and Jake DeBrusk, while setting us up to succeed this year. Don Sweeney made out like a bandit at the trade deadline.
Photo Credits: Debora Robinson, Getty