Anthony Richard’s arrival in Boston was very unassuming. His first training camp with the Bruins has been anything but.
Following the free agent signings of some more well-known veterans — think Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Shattenkirk — the club signed Richard to a one-year, two-way deal worth $775,000 in July.
Since lacing ‘em up at the start of camp, Richard has opened eyes and created opportunities with his speed, savvy, and a smidge of physicality.
“I’m not afraid to hit somebody sometimes. Any role, I’m good with it,” he said with a smile.
The 26-year-old’s hard work was rewarded with a spot on a line with two of the team’s top offensive threats in Friday’s 4-3 preseason shootout loss to the Flyers at TD Garden — David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha.
The move was consistent with the coaching staff’s philosophy of mixing in younger players with established ones, to both show them the ropes and see if there’s a spark.
Sparks have been just what Richard, the 100th pick in the 2015 draft by the Predators, has shown. After a few years bouncing around the minors, Richard signed with the Canadiens last season and was assigned to Laval of the AHL, where he totaled 30 goals and 67 points in 60 games. While he enjoyed that successful run, it ultimately cost him a bit; he did get a 13-game look with the Habs, scoring three times, but the big club chose to keep him down for Laval’s postseason run.
“I could have played way more games if it was not for the waiver thing. Montreal was scared to lose me in the waiver,” Richard said. “I had a good year in Laval. They didn’t want to lose me for a playoff push down there. I got screwed a little bit with the business side of hockey. I knew if I had a real opportunity somewhere else, I could make a real impact on the roster in the fourth, third line, and sometimes second line.”
Friday night, he twirled with what could be considered Boston’s first.
“Obviously, Pasta and Zacha are outstanding players. They make the game much easier for me as a guy who works hard and goes to the gritty area to find the puck for them,” said Richard, who said sometimes he just drops his blade to the ice because he knows those two will put it right on his tape.
Richard, who also has spent time on a line with Morgan Geekie and Trent Frederic, said the feedback he’s received from the coaching staff has been positive.
“When you get put with good players, it means they like you. They’re happy with what you brought to the table so far. So, try to read a little between [the lines] there,” he said. “I’m sure that they’re happy with what I’ve brought so far. I’m pretty happy with the way I played the last seven or eight days.”
When weighing his options over the summer, Richard, who brought his parents to Red Sox and Patriots games recently, had an inkling he would fit in.
“When I talked to management here, it seemed they were playing the same type of hockey here; they’re an offensive team but they’re trying to play with pace, which suits my game pretty good,” he said.
Richard is clearly building on the confidence he established during his offensive outburst for Laval.
“I’ve never played better than in the last 12 months. Coming to camp, I was really confident that I could make a push, that I could show the coaching staff and the management that they made the right decision to sign me,” he said. “It was a good first week for me on and off the ice. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.”
. . .
Bobby Brink and Morgan Frost scored shootout goals, and Matt Poitras and Pastrnak came up empty, securing the win for Philadelphia. The Bruins got a pair of goals from Pastrnak (one on the power play and another at 4 on 4) and another from Danton Heinen. Joel Farabee, Ryan Phoehling, and Brink scored in regulation for the Flyers . . . Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark went the distance and finished with 35 saves, including denying Owen Tippett on an overtime penalty shot . . . In the first fisticuffs of the preseason, Jakub Lauko and Philly’s Louie Belpedio exchanged some heavy-duty haymakers. The pair had been whistled for matching roughing penalties and then took it to another level as soon as they stepped out of the boxes . . . Garnet Hathaway, whom the Bruins acquired at last season’s trade deadline, was in the lineup for the Flyers. He was his feisty self, introducing himself to Boston rookie John Farinacci with a couple of love taps to the back of the helmet during a net-front scrum . . . The Bruins trimmed their camp roster by two defensemen, assigning Ryan Mast to Providence’s camp — it’s set to open next week — and sending Jackson Edward to the London Knights of the OHL. More transactions are likely this weekend . . . Song of the night: “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements.