Ondrej Kase was acquired three days before the NHL’s annual trade deadline in a big deal with the Anaheim Ducks. In the trade, the Bruins sent veteran winger David Backes and a first round pick in 2020 to both shed salary and add skill to the wing position. It was a slow transition for Kase. The Czech forward had just one point, an assist, in six regular season games after the trade. He also dealt with injury issues.
To make matters worse, Kase missed nearly the entire Phase 3 training camp this summer, and got to Toronto late while dealing with undisclosed issues.
Ondrej Kase has impressed in the bubble. In five games, Kase has four points (0 g, 4 a) and has caught the eye of head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“I think it’s an adjustment for everybody,” Cassidy began. “I think that he’s been here long enough now to know that you have to get inside to get the really good scoring chances. Teams protect the middle better. They’re going to give you the outside ice and then close you off in a hurry when you get down, you know, certainly towards hash mark, goal line and any interior slot area. So, he has no reservations about getting there, so clearly, he’s made that adjustment over time. Or maybe right away for all I know.”
When Kase arrived in February, he was a relative unknown. In the roughly five and a half months since, he hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the staff or the fanbase. Now? Kase is settling in. He’s showing everyone what made him an attractive trade option.
“I don’t know his history when he first got here,” Cassidy said. “As for the time and space, a lot of one-on-one stuff. Again he’s able to do it on the smaller ice here against good mobile defenseman in Carolina. They try to close on you quick, a good skating D corps. So, when you can shake them, that’s when the opportunities open up and he’s recognized that.”
A PLAYOFF IMPACT
The Bruins biggest need at the deadline was a consistent middle-six winger to play with David Krejci. So far, through five playoff games in the Toronto bubble, Ondrej Kase is looking like a guy that can fill the role. He hasn’t scored yet, but he’s done everything else right.
“Good player for us in the series in terms of that. Getting a lot of good looks,” Cassidy continued. “Obviously hasn’t scored yet but it’s only a matter of time if he keeps creating that. It takes a certain hockey IQ to be able to do that and still not skate into your own players as well and some chemistry on the line. And we’re starting to see a lot more of that out of that line. Didn’t get a lot of work together and they’ve done good work in this series, so maybe there’s something there in the long term, but so far so good.