As one might expect after grinding it out with an offensively-challenged group the last few seasons, Ondrej Kase is pumped at the possibilities with NHL point-leading Boston Bruins after being dealt from the Anaheim Ducks.
The 24-year-old Kase has seven goals and 23 points in 49 games with a minus-7 rating this season. He never skated on a line with a playmaker as gifted as his Czech countryman David Krejci during his time in Anaheim. So understandably, Kase is excited about a scenario where he could slide into the right-wing spot on Krejci’s line to start — and perhaps even remain there if chemistry develops quickly.
“I think [Krejci] is an unbelievable player, and I think anyone would want to play with him," said Kase, who posted a 20-goal campaign in 2017-18. "He can pass the puck very well, great passer…Unbelievable at passing. It’ll be very good to play with him. I think that it could help [my offense]. It’s hard to say; Krejci is a very, very good passer. He could find [me] very, very well. Yes, I hope it helps.”
The good news for Kase and the Bruins is that the young right winger likes to shoot the puck. That’s something an overly passive B’s group could use at times. Kase would rank fifth on the Bruins with his 135 shots on net in 49 games this season, behind only David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk.
The newest Bruins’ shooting percentage this season is under six (5.2 to be exact). That would put him in company with guys like Chris Wagner and Brett Ritchie — players that don’t exactly scream out natural goal-scorer. It’s also well under his career-mark of 9.5 percent, and less than half of his shooting percentages from the last two seasons (13.7 and 11.7). Kase is hoping a change of scenery improves his bad luck.
“I am very, very excited to be part of the Boston Bruins and I can’t wait for the playoffs,” said Kase, who’ll be wearing No. 28 (most notably Mark Recchi's number from the Bruins' last Stanley Cup title). “I hope we win the Stanley Cup; that’s why I’m going to Boston.”
The talent around Kase will demonstrably change for the better in Boston. It’s still uncertain if he'll suit up immediately once he starts practicing with the team next week, as he’s working to return from a concussion.
Then there’s the question of whether Kase ends up as a second or third-line right winger. Don Sweeney left Kase’s specific role up in the air, but pinpointed that he’d play right wing with either Krejci or third-line center Charlie Coyle.
“We did see his scoring abilities, his versatility, his own game, the ability to probably play either with [David] Krejci or [Charlie] Coyle on that right side, [and] he’s a right shot. [He] adds to the speed and offensive ability to our hockey club,” said Sweeney, who surrendered a first round pick, David Backes and young D-man Axel Andersson in the deal.
“For us, we’ve addressed what we think we need and also [the trade] doesn’t take away from any of the players we have on our current roster. [We still have] players that have been pushing from down below from a depth perspective to continue to have our club hopefully staying healthy throughout our last twenty games, and into the playoffs.”
Either way, both the player and the team are banking on an offensive surge from Kase once he does get into the lineup.