Reader Rating: 5.9
SCOC Rating: 5.4
It looked like Nick Ritchie was going to have himself a redeeming season after a rocky start to joining the team in February 2020.
On paper, yes, Ritchie had a really good 2020-21 season with career-highs. He was also the only player on the Boston Bruins’ roster to play in all 56 games of the condensed season. He accumulated 15 goals – the most in his six years in the NHL. It was also his second year with nine power-play points to which he also registered another career-high in power-play goals with five.
But he was too hot and then too cold as Ritchie was inconsistent for the majority of this past season.
Ritchie started the season off strong. He was impactful on the power play, notching four of his five power-play goals in the first eight games of the season - and seven of the nine power-play points in the first ten games.
He gave the Bruins a presence in front of the net which generated goals with tipped shots and being at the top of the paint for quick shots. All good stuff.
Honestly, I was ready to take back everything I said about him in last season’s review.
If Ritchie was able to keep that energy going throughout the season, we could be having a different conversation about how things ended.
But Ritchie couldn’t maintain that momentum for a full 56 games as he began bouncing around different lines.
When Ritchie ultimately fell to the third line, his production flattened out and he became lost on the power play.
He was streaky in a bad way in March. Ritchie had an eight-game pointless streak from March 7-25. The 25-year-old had a couple good games after that and then was unnoticeable with another pointless streak -this time a 10-game span from April 5-20.
Ritchie’s inconsistencies were in line with those of the bottom-six forwards. They had a hard time producing no matter how Bruce Cassidy tried to shuffle the deck. For the third line, Ritchie and Co. couldn’t find a rhythm with centers and wings being switched out which made it hard to establish any chemistry.
And that carried over into playoffs. Ritchie definitely had a better series against the Washington Capitals, where he accumulated a power-play goal and two assists for three points. But along with the forwards’ group, he couldn’t provide the secondary scoring and effort that the Bruins needed in the second round.
It wasn’t terribly shocking when the Bruins decided to not extend a qualifying offer to Ritchie before free agency last week.
As free agency has unfolded, it became more apparent the team is trying to revamp the third and fourth line and Ritchie wasn’t going to fit.
As a result, the winger signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a $2.5M AAV.
Overall, Ritchie’s stint with the Bruins looked hopeful early this year, but was ultimately a disappointment.
His first full season with the B’s showed glimmers of potential at the beginning but dimmed as the year progressed when scoring was needed the most.
Ritchie did register 26 points in the regular season and four points in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough, especially when the season was on the line.