Bruins

Bruins sign rugged Brett Ritchie to a one-year contract

Bruins sign rugged Brett Ritchie to a one-year contract

It seems that every July 1, Bruins GM Don Sweeney dips into the free agency bargain bin for a fourth line-type and he did it again on Monday by signing rugged Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie.

The B’s signed the 26-year-old Ritchie to a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2019-20 NHL season.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Ritchie scored 16 goals during the 2016-17 NHL season, but he’s known much more for his rugged play, hard-hitting style and the willingness to stand up for his teammates when it’s called for. It’s something the Bruins could have used a little more of from their fourth line at times last season, and Ritchie has shown at times in Dallas that he’s more than willing to do that.

Ritchie has fights with heavyweights like Colton Parayko and Tom Wilson on his NHL résumé and will definitely add to the Bruins' team toughness.

Given that the B's already have Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly signed for next season as well, it leaves in question exactly how 35-year-old David Backes is going to fit into a B’s team where a fourth-line role seems his most likely NHL job description at this point.

Last season, Ritchie had four goals and six points in 53 games for the Stars along with 57 penalty minutes, and he’s averaged five goals and 10 points over the last couple of seasons after popping for 16 goals a few years ago. It’s not really going to be about offense with Ritchie as much as it’s going to be about size, strength and rugged, physical play after the Bruins were pushed around by the St. Louis Blues a bit during the Stanley Cup Final.

The Ritchie contract with the Bruins is a bit of a pay cut for him as he’s coming off a two-year, $3.5 million contract he signed with Dallas a few years ago, and puts him in the Joakim Nordstrom/Riley Nash bargain signing category the Bruins have utilized with good success in every NHL free-agency period.

Ranking the top free agents in the NHL>>>>>

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Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Bruins' David Pastrnak enjoying MVP-caliber season on NHL's best contract

Don Sweeney has made several shrewd moves as Boston Bruins general manager, and signing David Pastrnak to a six-year, $40 million contract extension in 2017 stands above the rest.

It's become the best contract in the NHL among players who aren't on their rookie deals.

The Bruins exit their bye week Friday with a road game against the Winnipeg Jets, where Pastrnak will try to build on his league-leading goal tally of 37. He also ranks fourth in scoring with 70 points in 51 games. Barring injury, he'll almost certainly become the Bruins' first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94.

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His advanced stats are stellar, too. The Bruins control puck possession at a high rate with Pastrnak on the ice. They own a plus-123 edge in shot attempts, a plus-63 advantage in shots on goal, a plus-67 lead in scoring chances and a plus-19 tally in goals scored during 5-on-5 play when Pastrnak is on the ice.

In a world where the best young players are getting as much as $9 million, $10 million, $11 million or more per season on their second contracts, Pastrnak is making far less than his counterparts. Pastrnak's contract ranks 74th among all players in salary cap hit at $6.67 million. His cap hit ranks 13th among all right wingers, 15th among players who've scored 20 or more goals and 15th among players with 50-plus points.

Speaking to reporters in November of 2018, Pastrnak had no regrets about the contract he signed.

Here's a look at all the forwards in the top 30 in scoring (as of Wednesday morning) who are 26 years old or younger and not playing on their rookie contracts. You'll notice that only three of the 16 players have a lower cap hit than Pastrnak, including none in the top five.

 

Auston Matthews is a tremendous player for the Toronto Maple Leafs who has scored 30-plus goals in all four of his NHL seasons, but is he really worth more than 1.5 times as much as Pastrnak? No, he certainly isn't. Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl is ultra-talented, but he plays two-thirds of his 5-on-5 minutes alongside Connor McDavid (the best player in the world). Draisaitl's cap hit is almost $2 million more than Pastrnak's. Mitch Marner is a damn good player who tallied a career-high 94 points last season, but he's not $4 million better than Pastrnak.

Pastrnak did not dominate in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, but to be fair, few of Boston's best players showed up in the last four games (of which the St. Louis Blues won three times, including a Game 7 victory in Boston). The star winger also didn't appear to be 100 percent after battling a thumb injury earlier that season. His overall playoff résumé is quite impressive with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 42 postseason games.

There's no doubt Pastrnak's contract has been a huge advantage to the Bruins, but it's not even the best story when it comes to the team's salary structure. Boston's top trio of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, also known as the "Perfection Line", is signed through 2021-22 at a combined cap hit of $19.6 million (!), which is absurdly good value and should help the team remain a top Stanley Cup contender in the short term.

(Salary information via CapFriendly)

Haggerty: Bjork a pleasant surprise in B's first half

NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

NHL rumors: Bruins reportedly interested in Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon

As the Bruins look to bolster their blue line, they are interested in trading for San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. Dillon is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and LeBrun notes that he's "going to be dealt" by the Sharks.

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Here's what LeBrun said about a possible Dillon-to-Boston deal:

He’s a No. 4 for some teams, a No. 5 for others. I can tell you half a dozen teams so far have shown interest – including, I’m told, the Boston Bruins. Obviously a rugged defensive-defenceman in Brenden Dillon would be a nice fit there in Boston.

Dillon, 29, has one goal and 11 assists playing on the Sharks' top defensive pairing alongside Brent Burns. He carries a $3,270,000 cap hit, but will become a UFA after the season.

The Bruins have struggled to find their physical game throughout the season.

San Jose, sixth in the Pacific Division with 48 points, has a plus-38 advantage in shot attempts, a plus-15 in shots on goal and a plus-16 in scoring chances in 5-on-5 play when Dillon is on the ice, according to Haggerty. At that rate, Dillon could be worth pursuing if he came at the right price for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

Haggerty says that if Dillon can be had for strictly draft picks, then he's worth snagging. LeBrun noted that Dillon could be had for a second-round pick and possibly a prospect, likely an ideal price range for Sweeney.

While Boston could add defense, they'll also need to address their second-line right-wing situation. Adding Dillon and a legit winger for David Krejci's line could be a tall order for Sweeney ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.