After Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said last week that the team was going to qualify restricted free agents Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, the team surprisingly reversed course on Monday and didn’t tender qualifying offers to restricted free agent wingers. The Bruins signed RFA Nick Wolff to a one-year, two-way contract for an NHL value of $750,000 and tendered qualifying offers to goalie Callum Booth and former first round pick Zach Senyshyn, but both Ritchie and Kase are now essentially free to sign with any other NHL team.
The qualifying offer for Kase would have been $2.6 million, which the oft-injured right winger would have presumably accepted for next season as a larger amount than he’s going to get otherwise. The 25-year-old Kase has been limited to nine games with the Boston Bruins over the last two seasons due to concussion issues, and has posted just five assists, and zero goals, in 20 total games during the regular season and playoffs after being dealt from Anaheim.
“With [Kase] this year, it’s been a lot of wait and see, and that’s what we’re back to again,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy at the start of the playoffs when Kase was basically ruled out from playing after missing the entire season and then suiting up for the final game of the regular season against the Islanders.
It was a $2 million qualifying offer for Ritchie coming off a career-high 15 goals for the 25-year-old power forward in just 56 games last season, but the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Ritchie had arbitration rights and surely would have been looking at a significant raise based on his numbers. Perhaps it was expansion draft subterfuge from Sweeney when he said he was going to tender his RFAs when it really didn’t make sense to ever tender Kase, but either way it seems to be an admission that Boston’s moves at the trade deadline two seasons ago really didn’t pan out.
The Boston Bruins also didn’t tender a qualifying offer to 25-year-old Slovakian winger Robert Lantosi, who posted nine goals and 15 points 25 games this past season for the Providence Bruins and had 20 goals and 46 points in two seasons in Providence.
The Bruins currently have slightly north of $19 million in salary cap space as they approach the open of NHL free agency this week and obviously have a few spots to fill on their NHL roster.