If the Toronto Maple Leafs are to have any degree of flexibility to acquire players at the trade deadline, Nick Ritchie has to be moved out.
Inking the most expensive of the Toronto Maple Leafs free agent deals this off-season, Ritchie has ended up being the most underwhelming. Ondrej Kase, David Kampf and Michael Bunting have all performed considerably better.
Kyle Dubas took a punt on signing a two-year deal at $2.5 million a season on the basis of Ritchie’s 15 goals in 56 games with the Boston Bruins last year and it hasn’t panned out.
Now with him being buried in the minors, it’s become absolutely vital that the Toronto Maple Leafs find a trade partner. Otherwise they’re paying simply to keep him off their NHL roster.
How much is it going to cost the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Given his cap hit, it wasn’t all that surprising that Nick Ritchie wasn’t picked up when waived ahead of his taxi squad and now AHL demotion.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported ‘there has been some traction’ with regards to finding him a new team, but it remains to be seen the price another side is willing to pay.
Frankly, the Toronto Maple Leafs might be lucky to see a 7th round pick, such is the lack of a real market for the player. Or they may have to attach an additional asset of their own to convince another side there’s any real value.
Of course, both Ritchie’s agent and the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be working hard to sell the positives. Ritchie is a stockier build and is willing to mix it up physically, as well as that recent 15-goal season.
Perhaps that is enough for a team to hedge it’s bets. Still, it feels very much like it’s a stretch to get rid of him without retaining any cap hit or having to take on a contract in return.
It is however absolutely vital that the Leafs don’t take on additional contracts, especially NHL ones, as that will further impact the already limited flexibility they have to make trades.
With the return of Adam Brooks courtesy of a waiver claim, the Leafs have already had to, at the very least, move Timothy Liljegren on paper down to the Toronto Marlies, such is the limited cap space they’re maneuvering within.
The Leafs have some needs if they’re serious about competing in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. The defense needs more depth, after all there’s very little depth after Travis Dermott.
Even with the 7 defensemen the team does have; Sandin, Liljegren and Dermott are relatively unproven in the NHL beyond the bottom pairing.
It’s an unfortunate fact that Ritchie hasn’t worked out for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but then again not everything is going to stick, not everything is going to work. The team got lucky with the rest of their free agency additions panning out, for the most part, after all.
Hopefully, both for the sake of Toronto and for the sake of the player, a trading partner can be found. It’s starting to become vital to any hopes of adding playoff performers that we might have.