The Boston Bruins indicated earlier this week that qualifying offers would be extended to restricted free agents Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, but that decision changed at some point. Both players did not receive offers by today’s deadline, meaning they will become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday. The team did however sign Nick Wolff to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2021-22 season, and extended qualifying offers to Callum Booth and Zachary Senyshyn.
It seemed like a bigger surprise that Kase was originally going to be tendered an offer, given his Bruins career to this point. The 25-year-old winger has played just nine regular season games since arriving in Boston during the 2019-20 season, failing to score a single goal. The former 20-goal man has dealt with serious injuries and is at a crossroads in his career. Once a play-driving middle-six option, he’ll now hit the free agent market looking to find a way back onto an NHL roster. He’s played just 88 games since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
Ritchie on the other hand is coming off his best offensive season, with 15 goals in 56 games for the Bruins. Five of those game on the powerplay, where he used his large frame to clean up pucks in front of the net, a role that he could perhaps now fill for some other team around the league. The 10th overall pick in 2014, Ritchie has only totaled 59 career goals, but brings a high level of physicality to the bottom-six and won’t turn 26 until December.
There will certainly be teams interested in that production, and failing to receive a qualifying offer doesn’t actually close the door completely on a return to Boston. The two sides could still work out a deal, but the Bruins obviously didn’t feel comfortable issuing the qualifying offer and risking an arbitration award.
For Wolff, this is his second NHL contract after signing out of Minnesota-Duluth in 2020. The 25-year-old defenseman had just two assists in 24 games with the Providence Bruins, but stands 6’5″ and adds plenty of length to the minor league team’s blueline. He’ll be ticketed for the AHL once again, where he can continue to provide stable defensive play and hope for an NHL call-up.