By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy
On February 21, 2020, the Bruins traded David Backes, Axel Andersson, and their 2020 first-round draft pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, a 24-year-old Czech right-winger with a boatload of skill. In the following days, the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins finalized another deal swapping the rights of Nick Ritchie and Danton Heinen, Ritchie, and Kase, each with an extra year on their current contract. Looking at the trade at the time, most would say Boston added some depth pieces and scoring, definitely added a big body in Ritchie, and that Don Sweeney and the Bruins had another successful trade deadline. And then Coronavirus halted the NHL season with the Bruins only having completed 71 games and at the top of the standings for the entire league.
Since time has passed and the league has restarted their season with a revamped 24-team playoff/play-in round, we can evaluate the deals that Sweeney made in February. When we were shopping for our next second-line winger near the deadline, I was excited to see some impressive names in the running. Guys like Palmieri from New Jersey or Tomas Tatar from Montreal seemed like an easy solution to our scoring issues. Even when we got Kase and Ritchie and we did not go for the big-name scorer, I was not that disappointed. Ondrej Kase has a ton of skill and an excellent offensive mind. He is young and still developing, and I believe he could be a Bruin for some years down the line.
David Pastrnak confirms he had to go back into quarantine after skating with a group in Malden at the start of Phase 3. Ondrej Kase was part of that group as well, but is still back in Boston after not being able to make the trip to Toronto— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) July 28, 2020
With the impression that Kase has made on the Boston organization so far, I am afraid we may never reap the benefits of trading that first-round pick. In six games, he has one assist as a member of the black and gold, and with the unfortunate stoppage the NHL had suffered, let us hope that is not the only production we see from Kase in the top-six.
Since the NHL has restarted its training camps on July 10, Kase has skated with the team once in Boston and was labeled “unfit to play.” Ritchie skated on the 18th and the 20th with the team and has not been back with the squad since. Some wonder if Ritchie is dealing with an injury, though it seems likely, it would be wise to not rush him back, especially for a round-robin tournament game. It is not looking too great for Sweeney’s deadline acquisitions; we gave up a first-round pick, a prospect, and Danton Heinen for two players that may be out for an extended period of time.
Nick Ritchie skated with the Bruins today for first time since Phase 3 training camp back in Boston, but he won't be playing tonight vs. Columbus— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) July 30, 2020
Ondrej Kase is the main piece of this deal and the piece that I am most excited about. I wanted to extend him right away but would prove a foolhardy move to sign an extension without seeing the player play with the team. With one assist in his first six games as a Bruin, those extension talks that were going on in my head alone seemed to have ceased. Though the chances are slim, I am not going to write off Kase getting extended. He has skill and vision, a great fit next to David Krejci, a winger we have been waiting for since Nathan Horton left. If he can get healthy for the playoffs and produce some big-time plays and not be an absolute liability in the defensive zone, he could find himself in extension talks with Don Sweeney.
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