While most of the hockey world had been focused on the contract holdout of William Nylander all season, there were much fewer eyes on the holdout of restricted free agent Nick Ritchie. The 22-year-old wasn’t a big name. After all, the most points he had ever posted was 14 goals and 28 points in 2016-17. Yet hold out he did before eventually signing a three-year bridge deal worth a total of $4.6MM. A small footnote in the restricted free-agent process.
However, Ritchie is starting to get hot as he has scored all four of his goals in the last four games, including a two-goal performance Wednesday against Florida as well as eight points in the last seven games. The Athletic’s Eric Stephens (subscription required) writes that Ritchie is starting to develop into the player they drafted in the first round (10th overall) in 2014.
Ritchie admits that he has made minor adjustments such as adjusting his footwork and how he handles the puck, but after initially playing in the top six and then getting demoted to the fourth line was a game-changer. The winger says that he worked harder than ever to work his way back to the top-six. It’s working as Anaheim has won four in a row and six of their last seven.
- Kevin Kurz of The Athletic (subscription required) writes one of the many issues that the San Jose Sharks are struggling with is the play of veteran defenseman Brent Burns. The 33-year-old blueliner is having a good season statistically with 27 points in 27 games, but hasn’t scored a goal in more than a month and holds a minus-3 plus-minus rating. His general play has been disappointing and that really stood out in the team’s 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday.
- The Vegas Golden Knights got good news as injured center Paul Stastny was seen skating during the team’s morning skate, according to SinBin Vegas. Stastny has been skating for several days for about 20-30 minutes, which is the next step in his recovery from a lower-body injury that has held him for most of the season. The 32-year-old has appeared in just three games for the Golden Knights.
- When the Vancouver Canucks placed Brendan Leipsic on waivers earlier today, many were surprised they didn’t just assign Adam Gaudette to Utica of the AHL instead of potentially losing Leipsic. However, general manager Jim Benning explained that the team prefers to see Gaudette continue his development with the Canucks. “We want to keep him around because he plays centre and because every game he’s showing some good things and gaining more confidence,” Benning said via Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma. “We feel he’s helping us.”