BRIGHTON, Mass. — In theory, the Bruins are getting a very Bruins-type of player with the acquisition of the 6-foot-2, 234-pound, hard-hitting Nick Ritchie from the Anaheim Ducks.
The 24-year-old Ritchie is a former Top 10 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft who has never quite lived up to that level during his time in Anaheim, but he has averaged 11 goals and 29 points for a paltry Ducks offense while on pace for 12 goals and 28 points in Anaheim this season.
Ritchie has thrown more hits than Zdeno Chara this season in terms of the physicality department, and his size, strength and heavy play was a needed quality among a B’s forward group that’s a little too small and too skill-oriented right now.
Ritchie was dealt in exchange for Bruins winger Danton Heinen, and comes to the B’s with more goals, points per game and twice as many hits as Heinen, who never quite lived up to the promise of his rookie season in Boston.
The expectation is that Ritchie is going to get playing time right away on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork, and that could bring a whole different level of puck possession, heaviness and physicality to Boston’s third line. That kind of size could wear down opponents in a playoff series and certainly the bulk of Coyle and Ritchie together will open space for Bjork to operate with his speed and skill game.
Ritchie said he’s hoping to play “the big game,” which should be music to Bruins fans’ ears after both of Boston’s big-bodied forwards, Brett Ritchie (Nick’s older brother) and David Backes, were cleared off the Boston roster a month ago.
“That’s what I do, I drive to the net and win puck battles and hopefully can bring in a few [pucks] down and around the net,” said Ritchie, who expects to wear No. 21 for the Bruins when he arrives. “Hopefully I can help the team here and I’m going to take pride in playing that big game, winning battles, playing physical and driving to the net.”
Ritchie isn’t going to be an enforcer-type as he hasn’t dropped the gloves since doing it twice during the 2017-18 season, but there no shortage of examples of Ritchie playing a nasty physical game including this hit he threw on Backes in Boston a couple of seasons ago.
It remains to be seen if Ritchie is going to be enough against teams like the Capitals, Lightning and even the Blues if both teams are lucky enough to get to the Cup Final again, but the B’s could definitely use more of the “big game” Ritchie wants to bring to the table.