Looking to make the leap: Nick Ritchie

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This is part of Anaheim Ducks day at PHT…

Nick Ritchie had a brief taste of NHL action in his first year of pro hockey for the Anaheim Ducks this past season.

The next step now is earning a permanent spot on a roster that should once again be a Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference, and he should have an opportunity to do just that after a mostly quiet offseason — at least far as the on-ice roster is concerned — from the Ducks.

The team’s top pick (No. 10 overall) in 2014 has spent most of his summer adding strength to his 6-3, 230 pound frame, and could give the Ducks another big, skilled forward to add to their lineup. And following the offseason departures of veteran forwards Jamie McGinn, David Perron, Shawn Horcoff and Chris Stewart, there should definitely be room in the lineup for him to potentially earn a full-time spot at the start of the season.

For the most part, Ritchie’s 2015-16 debut was a promising one even if his production at the NHL level (only two goals and two assists in 33 games) didn’t exactly jump off the page.

But when you consider he was making the jump from the Ontario Hockey League to professional hockey it should be expected that there would be some struggles.

When he wasn’t playing in the NHL, he spent the majority of his season playing for the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League where he gave the Ducks a glimpse of his potential and what he could become in the NHL. Even though he was only 19 years old he was one of the Gulls’ most productive player, recording 30 points in 38 games, including 16 goals. That goal total was the third-highest mark on the team for the season even though he only appeared in 38 games.

His 0.789 point per game average was also the third highest mark on the team.

With nine forwards on the roster for the 2016-17 season already age 29 or older (including eight that are already over the age of 30) the Ducks definitely need some youth in that group.