Reunited Ritchie, Kase look to fill Leafs void left by Hyman

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The decision jarred Ondrej Kase awake, both as a result of Nick Ritchie needed to share the massive information straight away or forgot the time distinction between the GTA and Czech Republic.


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“He mentioned, ‘Hey buddy, how ya doin?’” Kase laughed. “I mentioned, ‘It’s 3 a.m.’ He mentioned, ‘I simply signed with the Leafs, too’.”

That makes it three golf equipment the 2 forwards have been a part of, the Anaheim Geese, the Boston Bruins and now Toronto, the place any earlier anonymity they loved is out the window.

Ritchie is a major candidate for the Zach Hyman Look-a-like Contest because the Leafs attempt to substitute their workaholic winger on the left facet of the primary line, whereas proper winger Kase received a smaller US$1.25 million piece of the pie that wasn’t sufficient to maintain UFA Hyman on the town.

“Nick’s individual, we’ve got a lot of enjoyable collectively as a result of we’ve identified one another seven years. He’s participant, he can combat and it’s good to have him,” Kase mentioned.


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However the Leafs have Wayne Simmonds for any rock ‘em, sock ‘em function with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, ought to they select. The membership is actually searching for a measured mixture of toughness and contact from whomever they select to trip together with a possible 50-goal scorer and 100-point proper winger.

“He has sneaky, delicate arms,” centre Jason Spezza mentioned of Ritchie getting a career-high 15 targets final 12 months with the Bruins in 56 video games. “When he hits you, you’re feeling it extra (than different gamers). I do know from expertise.”

Ritchie would have competitors in camp for that high left-wing submit from Simmonds, Ilya Mikheyev, Michael Bunting, Nick Robertson and PTO Nikita Gusev.

“I’m simply excited to go wherever the coach (Sheldon Keefe) desires me,” mentioned Orangeville native Ritchie. “It’s the primary day (of on-ice drills) however within the subsequent couple, hopefully, that begins shaping up.”


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Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Ritchie skates at training camp in Toronto on Thursday, September 23, 2021. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun
Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Ritchie skates at coaching camp in Toronto on Thursday, September 23, 2021. Jack Boland/Toronto Solar

With Matthews out till close to the top of camp as he recovers from wrist surgical procedure, Ritchie was with Marner and fourth line centre Adam Brooks on Thursday. Keefe has solely mentioned there may be ample time for experiments in camp and through six exhibition video games, however prefers somebody step up as quickly as attainable and seize the coveted spot with the younger stars.

Ritchie piqued Leafs’ curiosity the 12 months they drafted William Nylander with the eighth choose and had been contemplating Ritchie and sure Nik Ehlers, Dylan Larkin, David Pastrnak and Kasperi Kapanen, amongst others. They took Nylander, Ehlers went ninth to Winnipeg and Ritchie to Anaheim at 10. Traded to Boston for Danton Heinen two years in the past, Ritchie didn’t do sufficient for it to qualify him and the Leafs, in want of beef, moved in.


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Kase (pronounced Kash-ay), spent his first day between John Tavares and Bunting. He’s solely performed 20 video games the previous two years as he fought via a sequence of concussions and a restricted league schedule due to COVID-19. The late draft choose of the Geese in 2014 rapidly labored his technique to a 20-goal NHL season.

Kase insists he doesn’t let the medical historical past hang-out him, that he’s positive for this camp and doesn’t go into contact conditions with any trepidation.

“He’s feeling lots higher and prepared for an enormous season,” Ritchie added. “He’s quick, tenacious on the puck and he’s received shot. He sort of performs wherever and enhances guys rather well.”

We apologize, however this video has didn’t load.

Kase has a connection to a different new Leaf, countryman David Kampf, his pal going again “10 of 15 years.”


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“He’s an excellent robust man, possibly the strongest right here,” Kase mentioned of the 6-foot-1, 193-pound centre’s penchant for conditioning.

Talking of which, Keefe put each teams of the 49-man camp via a heavy-duty skate to start every observe on Thursday, leaving a lot of bent-over our bodies on the boards and bench afterwards. Given the final time he was on the ice together with his group was the delicate Recreation 7 defeat by Montreal in Might, few folks would have had sympathy for the survivors.

“I acknowledge it’s tough, however I like main with it,” Keefe mentioned of the impolite welcome to camp. “You’re simply trying to see effort. It’s extra of a psychological drill, questioning your self how a lot you’ve got left.”



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