3 former Bruins have good years, 3 are struggling

The Boston Bruins have never been afraid to make changes to the list in their quest to win another Stanley Cup. Over the last few seasons, management has made many moves, swapped players or seen them sign contracts elsewhere, and many former Bruins currently have different jerseys. With the start of the new year, now is a good time to see how the former Bruins are doing during the 2021-22 campaign; some thrive while others have a hard time.

A good season: Ondrej Kase (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Ondrej Kase had a memorable tenure with the Bruins. The 26-year-old winger handled serious injuries and was only fit for nine games in the regular season over two seasons with the team – he had an assist. The Bruins therefore chose not to extend a $ 2.6 million qualifying offer to Kase over the summer. The Czech striker became a free agent and signed a $ 1.25 million one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs – which officially ended his time in Boston.

Ondrej Kase, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kase has completely rebounded in Toronto and has become the player the Bruins had hoped he would be for them. In 28 games, he has eight goals and 16 points and four goals and six assists in his last nine competitions. He has also been very versatile for the Maple Leafs, jumping around the lineup but remaining effective. Unfortunately, he was recently put on the sidelines after injuring himself during a training session outside the ice.

Fighter: Nick Ritchie (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Nick Ritchie also signed with the Maple Leafs this summer. Like Kase, the Bruins decided not to extend power beyond his $ 2 million qualifying bid, which at the time was a dubious decision. The 26-year-old came after a career-high 15 goals and 11 assists in 56 games in 2020-21. He also threw 102 hits, providing the Bruins with scoring and gravel.

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Still, in hindsight, general manager Don Sweeney is probably happy with this move so far. In 30 games with the Maple Leafs, Ritchie has one goal, eight assists and a minus-5 rating. His fights have made him a healthy scratch, so his $ 2.5 million ceiling through 2022-23 doesn’t look very good. He still has time to turn his season around, but it’s surprising that Kase has been the better player of the two this season.

A good season: Danton Heinen (Pittsburgh Penguins)

The Bruins traded Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks to acquire Ritchie in the 2019-20 season. Sweeney no doubt won that deal as the 26-year-old winger only had 10 goals and eight assists in 52 games with the Ducks and they let him go in the free season. He then quietly signed a $ 1.1 million one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Danton Heinen Pittsburgh Penguins
Danton Heinen, Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Jeanine Leech / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This move has worked beautifully for the penguins as Heinen seems to have returned to form. In 32 games he has nine goals and 16 points. He also averages one point every other game, which is impressive for a winger in the bottom six. He is in third place on the team in goal with Brock McGinn. Few could have foreseen his success before the season, and if he keeps this production up, he should land himself a nice boost in the offseason – whether it’s with Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

Fighter: Riley Nash (Tampa Bay Lightning)

After a 41-point season with the Bruins in 2017-18, Riley Nash signed a $ 8.25 million three-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets that summer. Since then, he has never come close to that kind of production, and this season, the 32-year-old forward has been put on dispensation twice because of his fights. Much has changed since his days in Boston.

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In 25 games this season between the Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning, Nash has yet to score a point and has a minus-2 rating. He is known to be a defensive striker, but it is rare to see a striker go so long without a point. It’s uncertain what’s next for the NHL veteran.

A Good Season: Torey Krug (St. Louis Blues)

The Bruins miss Torey Krug immensely. Their left-wing defense has not been the same since he signed with St. Louis Blues in the 2020 offseason. The offensive defender also shows no signs of slowing down with five goals and 13 assists in 29 games. With that, he is still defensively healthy, with a plus-11 rating.

Torey Krug St.  Louis Blues
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Joe Puetz / NHLI via Getty Images)

Although Boston could use Krug on their backend, the 30-year-old wanted his salary, and the organization decided not to match St. Louis’ offer. We’ll see how his $ 6.5 million hit will age over the next six seasons, but right now the Blues should be happy to have him. Here we hope the Bruins can find a defender who can produce at the same level in the near future.

Fighter: Anders Bjork (Buffalo Sabers)

When the Bruins traded Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabers as part of the Taylor Hall deal last season, it seemed to benefit the 25-year-old winger. In 15 games with the Sabers, Bjork scored three goals and three assists. It was not striking totals, but his production increased and Bjork got more playing time. He was closer to becoming a legitimate third-line striker, but now his game has cooled off.

In 29 games this season, Björk has four goals and one assist. He has been dropped to Buffalo’s fourth line and does not get the same chances he got last season. This is worrying as the Sabers have swapped out more talent since last season. Still, Wisconsin natives have not been able to take advantage of an increased opportunity. Even though Hall has not been perfect this season, the Bruins would still make this trade every time. This move was a steal for Boston.

We will keep an eye on these players as the regular season continues. There is a lot of time left in 2021-22, so the players who are struggling can turn things around, just as the three players who have good starts may fall a little from here. We have to wait and see what happens the rest of the way.

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