The Boston Bruins had a quiet July 1st, but two of their free agents signings will give the NHL roster much needed depth. Forwards Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie both made the team out of camp, and both are expected to be reserve forwards once the club gets to full health. Joakim Nordstrom is nursing a foot injury and might not be able to play opening night. If he can’t go, Ritchie is expected to fill his spot in the lineup.
Both players come to Boston after stints on playoff teams a season ago. Ritchie was in Dallas with the Stars, while Lindholm split his season between the Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets. Both players are depth NHL’ers who play very different styles. As a result, both will be valuable to the Bruins in their own unique way.
Lindholm will add to the overall speed of the Bruins forward group, while Ritchie adds some of the size and grit lost when Noel Acciari signed in Florida.
Lindholm appeared in 61 games with the Maple Leafs prior to a trade to Winnipeg at the deadline. His speed and two-way game shined in Toronto, but he couldn’t score enough to secure a full-time role in the lineup. Lindholm, who manged only one goal and 13 points in 65 total games, acknowledged he could do more. “I think I have a lot of offense too. I haven’t shown that the last year but I know it’s there and hopefully I make things happen this year,” Lindholm said at the start of camp.
While Lindholm proved to be a strong two-way forward in Toronto and Winnipeg, Ritchie was more of a bruiser in Dallas. He played in 53 games for the Stars, racking up 126 hits at even strength. He manged only six points, scoring four goals in his limited NHL time.
Ritchie, at 6’4″ and 220 pounds, will provide the Bruins with some needed size and physical play. When Acciari signed with the Panthers, the Bruins lost some of their functional toughness. Although Acciari is a better player, Ritchie can scratch that itch for the Bruins.
He averaged 9:36 time on ice per game a season ago, which represents fourth line work. The big thing to be concerned about here? Ritchie was a possession anchor. He posted a Corsi For at five-on-five of 45.1%, which was -4.6% relative to his teammates.
Lindholm has the potential to fill a multitude of roles for the Bruins in 2019-20. He has the speed and skill to play up in the lineup if injuries strike, something the other depth players cannot. His style is well rounded, which would allow him to contribute on the penalty kill and play in the bottom-six if need be.
Lindholm does a lot of things well, which will make him a favorite of Bruce Cassidy when injuries inevitably strike.
Ritchie, unfortunately, doesn’t have that same array of skills. He’s a big body who will throw hits and stand up for his teammates. Ritchie a good locker room guy, but he doesn’t have the speed for the modern game and doesn’t bring much offense. He’s a drag on possession as well, which makes him a curious addition to the Bruins lineup.
Ritchie scratches the itch left by the departure of Acciari, but there is a chance he doesn’t last the season as a member of the Bruins.
Par Lindholm Official Prediction: 46 GP, 5 Goals, 11 Assists, 16 Points, +8, 9:57 TOI
Brett Ritchie Official Prediction: 22 GP, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, -5, 9:36 TOI