The Toronto Maple Leafs took a chance on Nick Ritchie this summer.
Unfortunately, it has yet to work out how everyone hoped. Ritchie has just one goal and eight points after failing to grab one of the wide open top-six left-winger spots in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup.
Nick Ritchie has been waived by the Leafs, and passed over by the rest of the NHL.
At 2 PM today, Nick Ritchie cleared waivers.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Nick Ritchie
Because of the NHL’s rules and salary cap, there is a good chance that Nick Ritchie is easier to trade now that he has cleared waivers.
While it seems like the opposite would be true – why would you pay for someone you just passed on for free – in the NHL teams can only have 50 contracts and they will often want to send money out if they are taking money in.
On top of that, now that he’s cleared waivers, a team could trade for him knowing that they have maximum flexibility to move him to the minors if necessary.
Personally, I thought trading Nick Ritchie would be very easy. NHL GMs have a history of loving hardnosed, big players with first-round draft pedigree. In the past year we’ve seen actual NHL teams give away assets for Rasmus Ristolainen and Duncan Keith, two players much worse and much more expensive than Nick Ritchie.
We’ve also seen teams just give away first line talent, like New York with Pavel Buchnevich, so it wouldn’t be surprising (I would have in fact bet on it ) to see a team do something dumb and go after Ritchie.,
When Ritchie was signed, I probably had the best take of my life, writing about how people were expecting too much and pretty much laying out exactly what happened as the most likely scenario.
He has not performed, at all. He doesn’t give you defense, so he can’t play on the third line where Kampf, Engvall and Kase are shut-down kings, and his salary doesn’t play on line four.
Kerfoot and Bunting have absolutely knocked it out of the park and show no signs of letting go of their grips on the two top-six left-wing jobs. Even if they did hit a rough patch, Ritchie wouldn’t even be one of the top choices to fill in at this point.
He will however, get a reprieve because the Leafs just put Marner and Engvall into the Covid Protocol. He would have to be incredible to beat out Mikheyev or Engvall at this point. If he isn’t traded, he’ll likely go to the Taxi Squad/Marlies, as needed.
As for depth, Ritchie can join Adam Brooks , Michael Amadio and Kirill Semyonov as perfectly adequate fourth liners the NHL rules prevented the Leafs from keeping on the active roster.
That’s a lot of depth to be able to just write-off, but the Leafs are so well stocked in half-decent fourth line (or better) options that it’s really quite incredible anyone still mentions their salary cap situation in a negative way anymore.
Should need dictate, the Toronto Maple Leafs can use: Joey Anderson, Brett Seney, Nick Robertson, Josh Ho-Sang, Kyle Clifford, Alex Steeves or Semyon Der-Arguchintsev.
The Leafs are deep, and they’re crushing opponents at will. Nick Ritchie seems like a nice enough guy, so hopefully he gets his game back and can help the Leafs should they need to call on him later.