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Maple Leafs sign Nick Ritchie to Two-Year, $5 Million Contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to load up on forwards, this time landing unrestricted free agent forward Nick Ritchie for two years at a $2.5 million cap hit.

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to fill the void left by some departing free agents by adding forwards to their depth.

Their latest signing appears to be the biggest swing yet.

The Leafs signed forward Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract on Saturday. The player will carry a salary cap hit of $2.5 million per season.

A first-round pick, 10th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ritchie played in all 56 regular season games with the Boston Bruins last season. He scored 15 goals and added 11 assists while averaging 15:22 of ice time per game.

The 25-year-old left-winger played primarily on the Bruin's third line last season and was an effective net-front presence on the power play. Five of his 15 goals last season came with the man advantage.

Ritchie was on track to become a restricted free agent until the Bruins failed to tender him a qualifying offer of $2 million by Monday's deadline, which allowed the player to sign with the club of his choosing.

Ondrej Kase, another Bruins player, was also not tendered a qualifying offer. He signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Maple Leafs on Friday.

In Ritchie, the Leafs get a player that head coach Sheldon Keefe is familiar with. Keefe coached Ritchie for half a season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds during the 2014-15 season.

The additions of Ritchie and Kase create a bit of a logjam of forwards left on the club. According to PuckPedia.com, the addition of Ritchie puts the club over the NHL salary cap of $81.5 million by more than $1.3 million. That is, of course, if the Leafs choose to carry the maximum 23 players on the active roster, and given that they will be in cap savings mode, that isn't likely to be the case.

Twenty or 21 players is more realistic for the Leafs.

Ritchie's spot in the lineup is fairly safe as Toronto will likely try to give him some of the offensive responsibilities vacated by the departing Zach Hyman.

Michael Bunting, another free agent signing by Toronto, could make a claim for a bottom-six winger spot. 

David Kampf is a 26-year-old defensive forward who could also find a fit, particularly on the team's penalty kill. The Leafs signed him on Wednesday.

Beyond that, it starts to look a little busy at the forward position.

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