BOLTON, Mass. - The Boston Bruins will return to the ice this week much the same team that left it some three months ago.
The roster that carried the Black & Gold to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final has not endured much turnover since that Wednesday night in June. But two of the main spots that appear to be up for grabs could create plenty of opportunity when training camp commences on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
The departures of wingers Marcus Johansson (Buffalo) and Noel Acciari (Florida) to free agency have opened up some competition for a bevy of players, among them Brett Ritchie (one-year, $1 million) and Par Lindholm (two years, with annual cap hit of $850,000), both of whom were signed by general manager Don Sweeney on July 1.
Both players arrived in town last week to join their new teammates for informal captains' practices and made their first official appearances as Bruins at the organization's annual charity golf tournament on Monday at The International.
"You want some stability, you want to be on a winning team," Ritchie said of what appealed to him about joining the Bruins. "Teams that are in the basement, that can become a grind. You want to be part of that culture. Playing against these guys all these years - every team in the league will say it - they're a tough team to play against.
"It's a team that you look at and say, 'Wow, that would be cool to play with them.' I think it was an easy decision for me."
Video: New forward Ritchie talks about joining the Bruins
Ritchie had spent the first seven seasons of his professional career in the Dallas Stars organization, including the majority of the last five years with the big club. The 26-year-old Ontario native played in 53 games for Dallas last season, notching four goals and six points.
"You grow up thinking of the Big, Bad, Bruins. It's a bigger market than I've been used to in Dallas," said Ritchie. "There's a lot of buzz around the team. It's a good team, they're competitive every year. The winning culture…that's just the feel you get. It's definitely exciting."
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right shot - who set career highs in goals (16) and points (24) in 2016-17 - certainly has an offensive side to his game, but he also is not shy about using his size to play a more physical brand of hockey.
"There's definitely the size and strength aspect in the league - it's getting faster and more skilled, but you still need that presence," said Ritchie. "I think I'm pretty versatile and I can definitely bring that physical side."
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes that Ritchie could be among the contenders for a job on the right wing alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.
"We're gonna use different guys there, just like you mix guys around. I wouldn't read too much into the lines right away," said Cassidy. "We've got some guys that will compete with [Karson Kuhlman]. Obviously the first name that comes to mind is Brett Ritchie, big guy that's played in the league.
"Then you got the [Peter] Cehlariks of the world, you've got [Anders] Bjork, whose [played] well at the rookie camp. We'll look at different guys that first week. It's too early to say what guys will stand out. But that's why we have camp."
Lindholm, meanwhile, split his time between Toronto and Winnipeg last season - his first full campaign in the NHL - after eight seasons in his native Sweden. The 27-year-old had a goal and 12 assists in 65 games between the Maple Leafs and Jets.
"A winning team, a team that went to the Finals last year. It's a good team," Lindholm said when asked about what he expects as he joins the Bruins. "A lot of players who have been around for a long time and know what they need to do to make things happen. I'm excited to be on this team."
The 6-foot, 183-pounder is primarily a center, but could find himself in the mix for other roles in the bottom six.
"Solid, especially defensively," Lindholm said when asked to describe his game. "I think I have a lot of offense in me too. I haven't shown that the last year, but I think it's there and hopefully I make things happen this year."
Cassidy said that it is his intention to have Charlie Coyle remain predominantly as the team's third-line center, but should Lindholm, Trent Frederic, or one of the Bruins' other young centers push for a spot, the Weymouth native could shift to the wing.
"Some of that goes to what if some of these other centermen, Frederic and Lindholm, push, then that could result in him going to the wing as well," said Cassidy. "There's two different ways to look at it. Do we have a guy that we're comfortable with on the right side and do our centermen push up so that we can move Charlie out of there?
"I think that's down the line. We're gonna give guys opportunity to play the wing. We liked our team with Charlie in the middle for obviously reasons, it gave us four strong centermen."