Bruins

It may not have been dazzling, but the Bruins addressed a big, heavy need with Nick Ritchie deal

It may not have been dazzling, but the Bruins addressed a big, heavy need with Nick Ritchie deal

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins finally responded to the lack of size and heaviness that’s existed as one of the few real, undeniable weak spots for their hockey club over the last few seasons.

Out went 6-foot-1, 186-pound Danton Heinen after never really playing to his size or offensive skill level after a strong rookie season. And in comes newly acquired 6-foot-2, 234-pound Nick Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks in a 1-for-1 trade on deadline day.

Ritchie is a former top-10 draft pick who has averaged 11 goals and 29 points in Anaheim over the last three seasons while not exactly playing for an offensive powerhouse. The deadline day deal wasn’t done to provide the Bruins with offense, though, as much as it was executed to bring the Bruins size, strength and heaviness up front. With Ritchie, the Bruins are a better equipped to adequately deal with the big, deep and strong teams like Tampa Bay, Washington and maybe even St. Louis that they may face in the playoffs.

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It’s an admission from the Bruins that they needed more physicality and muscle among their forward group after watching the players on the ice get pushed around by the Blues in last season’s Stanley Cup Final and pushed around one too many times by the Capitals over the last handful of seasons as well.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney alluded to glaring roster need while discussing the deal with the media on Monday afternoon. To that end Ritchie also said he plans to bring the “big game” of net-front presence, hitting and gritty play along the boards with him to Boston. And that’s exactly what his job description is going to require.

“It was an area that we felt we needed to address from some interior ice play, size and strength, net-front play, contested puck battles. [These are] things that we feel Nick will bring to the table for us,” said Sweeney. “He’s done it in Anaheim and we think he’ll address some of those needs for us moving forward.

“Where [the Bruins players] were last year in a Game 7 and where they are this year, they should be proud of themselves. But if you have opportunities where you can address areas of need with your group then you have to do it. Secondary scoring is always so important and we believe Ondrej [Kase] will provide some of that. If [Ritchie] goes in and plays with Charlie Coyle then those are two big guys that are going to be hard to contain.”

There’s no doubt the Bruins are better on the ice after essentially trading a first round pick, David Backes, Heinen and Axel Andersson to Anaheim in exchange for Ondrej Kase and Ritchie, and they also shaved upwards of $3 million off their salary cap for next season as well. The extra cap space will be a massive, long-term roster-building factor when it comes to re-signing both Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk.

But that’s a story for another day with the Bruins attempting to keep up with teams like the Lightning, Penguins and Capitals that were very active improving their teams ahead of the trade deadline.

The immediate impact will make the Bruins a tougher team to play against with a little more diversity among their winger options from game-to-game and opponent-to-opponent. They can go the speed route with a player like Karson Kuhlman against the faster, more skilled teams, or they can go the big, heavy and physical route with Ritchie against heavier match-ups around the league that turn into punishing grudge matches in the postseason.

That’s an important difference from last year’s group where it felt like the Bruins roster was built for regular season success with a dominant Perfection Line, great special teams play and an elite goaltending duo that led them to the postseason. They have the speed, skill and special teams game down to a scientific winning formula.

This season they are still built for the regular season with the same group of impressive strengths. But now, it feels like they are also a little more prepped for nasty, physical playoff battles where big bodies and bad attitudes are often needed.

It remains to be seen how it will all play out for the Black and Gold when they attempt to get through the Eastern Conference playoff gauntlet. But at long last it seems like this trade deadline shows that the Bruins decision-makers learned from what caused them to fall a little short of their goals last spring, and they’re not going to get fooled again.

Milan Lucic joined Instagram, and Bruins' fans will love his first post

Milan Lucic joined Instagram, and Bruins' fans will love his first post

Former Bruins forward Milan Lucic officially joined Instagram on Thursday, and Boston fans will absolutely love his first post. 

Although Lucic now plays for the Calgary Flames, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to reminisce on the B's 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

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First post. Let’s have some fun

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Lucic posing with the Stanley Cup is a huge flex, but the big guy definitely did his part during the 2011 playoff run. The Vancouver native tallied 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 25 playoff games playing alongside David Krejci and Nathan Horton, including two goals and an assist in the series against the Canucks.

During his day with the Stanley Cup, Lucic returned to Vancouver for a celebration with family and friends, so we can imagine his first Instagram post is from that day. 

Hopefully he plans on sharing some more photos from 2011 because that championship run was electric. 

 

 

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

It appears the Boston Bruins could've received a lot more for Joe Thornton when they dealt him to the San Jose Sharks in 2005, at least according to Brian Burke. 

During a Twitter Q&A session on Thursday Burke, general manager of the Anaheim Ducks at the time Thornton was traded, revealed he was rather frustrated he couldn't pry the future Hall of Famer from Mike O'Connell's clutches. 

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As for what he would've given up for Thornton -- this one may frustrate B's fans. 

O'Connell ended up dealing Thornton to the Sharks for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. The move cleared cap space for the Bruins to later sign Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, among others, but could what they have received from Anaheim been better?

If the Bruins ended up receiving Anaheim's 2006 first-round draft pick (19th overall), they could've drafted anyone from Claude Giroux who went 22nd overall to the Philadelphia Flyers to Nick Foligno who was drafted 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators. Now, if the first-round pick Burke was willing to give up was indeed a 2006 pick, then the Bruins who drafted Phil Kessel fifth overall that year could've potentially added two stars for the price of one. 

Thinking about that situation alone should make Bruins' fans cringe, but there's more.

Burke noted he would've given up the player who O'Connell ranked as sixth-best on the Ducks roster as well as a prospect. Looking back at that now, the sixth player could've been anyone from Francois Beauchemin to Joffrey Lupul and a prospect could've been the likes of Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, according to WEEI's Matt Kalman. 

The sixth-best player makes you shake your head because Beauchemin and/or Lupul weren't the greatest, but the first-round pick and possibility of adding Getzlaf or Perry would've been huge for the Bruins. 

If this deal was done in 2020, you'd have to wonder if Don Sweeney would've accepted Burke's offer.