Maple Leafs make key free-agent signing in Nick Ritchie; Zach Hyman’s replacement?

leafs sign ritchie
Mar 7, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs needed to replace what they lost in forward Zach Hyman. He was a gritty in your fave winger who complimented their high end skill guys.

It appears that they may have found their man.

“I didn’t know I was going to be an unrestricted free agent,” Ritchie said after signing with the Leafs. “Just so excited to play for the Leafs and wear the Maple Leaf on my chest this year. There was lots of teams with interest, and I just chose what I thought was the best team and the best fit for me at this stage in my career.”

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Maple Leafs sign Nick Ritchie

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed free-agent forward Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract worth $5 million. His AAV will be $2.5 million.

Ritchie, 25, had 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 56 regular-season games and added four points (one goal, three assists) in 11 playoff games with the Boston Bruins last season.

The Anaheim Ducks selected Ritchie with the 10th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft. In 350 career games with the Ducks (2015-20) and the Bruins, Ritchie has 137 points (59 goals, 78 assists).

The Orangeville, Ontario, native also has recorded nine points (six goals, three assists) in 38 playoff games. Ritchie won a gold medal with Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Leafs lost emotional player in Hyman

Hyman, 29, had 15 goals and 18 assists (33 points) in 43 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He had 86 goals and 99 assists in 345 games over six seasons with Toronto. He was an emotional leader on the team.

After signing with the Oilers he penned a letter to Leafs Nation published at The Athletic:

Throughout my time in Toronto I can undoubtedly say that every time I put on that sweater I gave everything I had. I want to thank all of you for supporting me, motivating me, and believing in me.

The passion that exudes from Leafs Nation is contagious, and its one of the best places in the world to play because you guys care. So thank you for your continued support, thank you for investing yourselves in the team, and thank you for making a Toronto boy’s dream come true.

The Maple Leafs are hoping that Nick Ritchie can now fill that role.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article.