The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly attempting to trade Nick Ritchie and while it’s early days, there has apparently been some traction on finder a taker.
It’s fair to say Nick Ritchie‘s time in Southern Ontario has not been a success. As such, it should come as no surprise the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to trade him prior to the March. 21 deadline.
During Saturday night’s 32 Thoughts segment, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Leafs are working on moving Ritchie. While there has been no official trade request, the Sportsnet hockey reporter said everyone in Toronto understands it might be better to find him somewhere else to play.
Friedman added that there has been some traction in the last few days around the NHL on finding a taker for the 26-year-old. However, one issue which may complicate any trade, is that the winger still has one more season left on his contract, at a cap hit of $2.5 million.
The Leafs would prefer not to retain any salary in the event of a trade, understandable when considering how tight their salary cap situation is. In addition, buying Ritchie’s contract out is not preferable, as it would count as $300,000 against next season’s cap.
At the same time however, the $300,000 should be considered the most the Leafs would want to retain. As noted by Brian La Rose of Pro Hockey Rumors, Ritchie’s contract is back-loaded, meaning if Toronto were to buy him out next season, it would count as $1.1 million against their cap in 2023-24.
In terms of this season’s cap, the Leafs have been able to forgo some of Ritchie’s salary after loaning him to the Marlies. However, they still retain a pro-rated cap hit of $1.375 million.
Of course, the fact the 2014 10th overall draft pick is even in the minors, speaks volumes about his lack of success this season. The Leafs placed him on waivers, but no one claimed him.
After clearing waivers, Ritchie was even given a reprieve after forwards Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall were placed in COVID protocol. However, he failed to take advantage of the opportunity to show what he could do.
On the season, Ritchie has just nine points (two goals and seven assists) in 33 NHL games. This is after scoring 26 points — including a career-high 15 goals — in 56 games for the Boston Bruins last season.
The Orangeville, Ontario native certainly has the size and toughness needed to play in the NHL, but what isn’t clear, is if he has the necessary skills to prosper on a consistent basis. Regardless, it seems almost certain now he will need to prove himself somewhere other than Toronto.
How confident are you in the Toronto Maple Leafs being able to move Ritchie before the trade deadline? Further, do you think he has been given a fair shot in Southern Ontario, or would you like to see more of him? Let us know in the comments section below.