Tuesday, August 11, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Anaheim Ducks

Last stop! The Ducks conclude my annual mission. Only one prospect!

1. Nick Ritchie - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The best thing I can say about Ritchie's season is that he's left a great lasting memory upon his graduation from the league. During the regular season, both with Peterborough and Sault Ste. Marie, it was much the same from Ritchie. A player who had yet to really become the sum of all his parts. OHL fans had long been waiting for him to truly breakout and dominate the league the way they knew he could. Thankfully, that time did come in this past year's playoffs where Ritchie looked like a man among boys, and a man possessed, as the Hounds best player in the postseason. He completely took over games with his size, physicality, speed, and skill the way that we thought he would. Does it mean we should completely overlook the fact that his regular season numbers declined and he went through periods of disengagement? No. But, it does prove how good of a prospect Ritchie could be. With his size and puck control ability, he can be impossible to separate from the puck when he attacks the middle of the ice. And with his lethal wrist shot, it sets him up nicely to score goals at the next level. Plus, he's downright scary as a forechecker and can force a turnover without even making contact (fear and pressure). He can swing the outcome of a game in a variety of ways and that's what makes him dangerous. I think he'll find instant success at the pro level, which is likely to be the AHL with the forward depth Anaheim has accrued. Brother Brett had a 22 goal first AHL season and I think Nick is the better player exiting the league (no offence meant to Brett who's a great prospect too). That means a 25 goal rookie season should definitely be possible.

*Of Note, Ducks 2nd rounder in 2015 Julius Nattinen was drafted by the Barrie Colts in the Import Draft this year. If he suits up in Barrie, he'll be counted on to be a go to offensive player on a team that could contend for the Eastern Conference title.

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