Leading up to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.
Height: 6’3” Weight: 236 Shoots: Left
Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: No. 7 North American skater
What kind of player is he?
In a word, and it’s a word you’ll hear a lot, he’s “heavy.” He’s already a pro-sized power forward. He’s physical, he’s strong, he plays the kind of game that wears out opponents. Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray mentioned Ritchie as being one of those players that could wind up pushing their way up the draft order because of the “heavy” game he plays.
“There are some guys that aren’t being talked about that are potentially part of that [group of high-end talent],” Murray said. “It’s a copycat League, so L.A. wins the Cup again and the terminology that they’re ‘heavy’ and you’ve got guys like [Nick] Ritchie and [Jake] Virtanen that are good players that are ‘heavy’ and teams are looking for ‘heavy.'”
The big question with Ritchie is whether that size meshes with talent to make him a top NHL player. The debate on where to take him in the draft centers around that question. He could go in the Top 10 or he could slip to near 20. After seeing speedy skill players that can play physical have success in the postseason, some teams could get spooked on Ritchie’s size alone.
TSN’s Craig Button is one of the top scouting voices in the business and he said Ritchie’s size is what sets him apart as Michael Traikos of The National Post shared.
“Physically, he’s so far advanced,” Button said. “If you put him in the NHL right now, he’s a big man. But the biggest thing with Nick is developmental. He needs maturing.”
Mark Seidel, the Chief Scout at NACScouting has this to say about Ritchie:
“Nasty streak that scares opponents. He showed an ability to fight very well and is a lefty. Dominant at times, physical specimen, looked disinterested at times, very heavy shot. He goes through guys when he wants to, exceptional for some games and then invisible for others. He has the most upside of ANY forward in the draft. Impossible to move when he went to the front of the net.”
For more 2014 NHL Draft profiles, click here.