Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Hometown: Orangeville, Ontario
Projected: Top 10
Nick Ritchie got off to a slow start this season; through thirty games, he had 27 points and was a -11. Sixteen games later he has 29 more points and is up to a +1. He was already predicted to go in the top ten and this improvement could further solidify that assessment. Furthermore, if he continues to play well while Leon Draisaitl struggles, he could end up being drafted in the top five this summer.
Ritchie, a prototypical power forward, has gotten to where he is by using his size and strength in all three zones of the ice. He doesn't hesitate to get his hands dirty in the offensive zone, making his living in the corners, along the boards, and in front of the net. By using his puck protection, size and speed, he makes it very hard for opposing players to get to the puck.
"Nick is a powerful player and when he is skating and driving hard, he is extremely difficult to stop. He has a nose for the net and will take the puck to the net and can score with a very good shot or in tight around net. Very good along the boards and can quickly win a puck battle and create a scoring chance. With his skating and size, he opens up lots of opportunities for his line mates. Players like him, are not common."
"He's been dominant physically holding off defenders and forcing himself to the net, making it very difficult to defend against him," Petes general manager Mike Oke says. "I can really notice a maturation in his physical abilities. Nick comes in early in the morning for workouts before heading off to school. I think he's really trying to establish those daily habits and the routine of being a pro hockey player. Understanding that you have to put the time in."
Where He Would Fit
A few weeks ago radu47 wrote about an NHL Transformogrifier that could combine players and spit out a new one who combined the best aspects of each. Craiglin Smithson, a combination of Craig Smith and Colin Wilson, was one of the possible outcomes of a Transformogrifier. If there was such a thing, I would imagine Craiglin Smithson to have a lot of the attributes of Nick Ritchie; speed, size, and finishing ability in front of the net.
Because his playing style is not too different from many of the key offensive centerpieces for the Predators, they could definitely find a place for him. For that reason, I could see the Predators really wanting him no matter who is drafting him and no matter what the vision is for the team.