As the third round of the playoffs are getting underway, only a few NHL fans are cheering their on their favourite teams due to all the upsets the have occured. On the other hand, Brad Treviling and the Flames have other plans.
With five picks in the first three rounds of the draft they will be scouting tons of players over the next month and a half. One of those five picks however, happen to be in the first round, fourth overall and will hopefully become another crucial piece in our rebuild. Nick Ritchie of the Peterborough Petes in the OHL is a candidate for the Flames top pick in the draft.
Born: December 5th, 1995
Height: 191 cm (6'3'')
Weight: 107 kg (236 lbs)
CSS Ranking: 7th - North America Skaters
Nick Ritchie was drafted second overall in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection by the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. He was able to get 39 points in 62 games that season, and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie team. In the 2012-2013 campaign however, he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for the first half of the season. This of course, did not slow him down when he came back as he got 35 points in just 41 games.
This year was by far his best year of the three that he's played in the OHL. His amazing stats prove that he is probably going to be one of the top prospects in the 2014 draft and possibly the fourth overall pick by the Flames. Apart from this 74 points in the season, Ritchie also got five goals and six points on February 7, in a shootout loss to the Kingston Frontenacs. The last player to get five goals in one game in the OHL was Nick's brother Brett Ritchie who plays for the Dallas Stars.
Nick Ritchie is a big man with a nice frame, and given he has the skills, he could jump right into the NHL following the draft. Many players get hyped up for all their skill and talent, but cannot manage to compete at a high level like the NHL due to their lack of strength. This may be one of Ritchie's biggest assets as someone like Leon Draisaitl does not have the same advantage as him and is expected to go lower in the draft than projected.
Nick also has a lazer beam of a shot and likes to use his size and strength to get around defenders. He is your typical Brian Burke type of power forward and should get some attention from the Flames' scouts.
Although many people say that Nick Ritchie can skate very well, I tend to disagree and agree with that as well. From what I've seen, his skating itself, the technique and the way he accelerates, is pretty good. However, I do believe that he can try to improve his speed as it's hard to call a player a good skater if his skating is sub-par.
I also think that Ritchie can sometimes get too streaky and that can have an effect on his stats and how his own team plays. Nonetheless, he still has great upside and depending on the development team he has, he could easily overcome the weaknesses.
Peterborough Petes Head Coach Jody Hull on Nicholas Ritchie:
He's a smarter player this year. He's more aware, especially when he doesn't have the puck or when the other team has the puck. Those are things you develop over time; it doesn't just happen overnight. I think he's starting to realize the amount of work that you have to put in if you want to play on a consistent basis at the next level.
Comparables: Corey Perry, James Neal, Evander Kane