Fantasy Take: Leafs Sign Nick Ritchie

Ian Gooding

2021-07-31

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed left wing Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract with a cap hit of $2.5 million.

The Leafs receive a 25-year-old power forward who has recorded high penalty minute and hit totals as well as flashes of scoring ability throughout his career. Best-case scenario, he's a replacement for Zach Hyman on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, which maximized Hyman's scoring and helped him land a lucrative contract with the Oilers. Worst-case scenario, he's in the press box due to lack of effort, which is something that happened to him in the 2020 playoffs with the Bruins. That's a real concern because of the number of forwards the Leafs have signed.

If you had to pick which forwards would likely be in the lineup on opening night, Ritchie should be in that group. He currently has the sixth-highest cap hit among Leafs forwards, and he's signed for two years (unlike several other recent signings, including Ondrej Kase). This is beneficial for the Leafs from a roster competition standpoint, as players who don't score or perform in their roles should be moved down the lineup quickly. But more bodies means less likelihood of fantasy value from playing alongside the big four of Matthews, Marner, John Tavares, or William Nylander.

Ritchie has played in the top 6 and even received first-unit power-play minutes for the Bruins, so it's possible that this is a lateral move if he is in fact used on one of the top two lines. His value will be