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Avalanche Select Center Calum Ritchie at 27th Overall



Avalanche Calum Ritchie NHL Draft

Sometimes, your first instincts are always correct. The first player that I profiled leading up to the 2023 NHL Draft was the player that the Colorado Avalanche selected at 27th overall.

Calum Ritchie, a center from the OHL, was the man who heard his name called by Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland on Wednesday night.

The young center was touted before the season as a potential top-10 pick, but he didn’t quite have the draft year people expected. One of the potential reasons for that is because he played the majority of the season with a shoulder injury. That makes it difficult to evaluate him.

Seeing him drop to 27, however, is a mild surprise. His average ranking was 21, but when you get to this part of the draft, internal rankings fluctuate for teams.

Here’s my report on him from earlier this month…

“A good, but not great skater for the Oshawa Generals. He’s a right shot center who was used in every possible situation by his team, and wore an “A” as an 18 year old. Good size, and a trusted defensive player. Seemed to understand how to play the center position at both ends of the ice. In my viewings, he was used quite frequently on the penalty kill, and same goes for the powerplay, so the opportunities were there an a team that wasn’t that great. From a skill standpoint, nothing really jumped off the page. He was good, but not great in any area. He didn’t have one skill offensively that really stood out. The production isn’t all that impressive either, but then again, he wasn’t on the best team. Not an overly physical player, despite having good size.

Based off the rankings, it would be a small surprise to see him drop to #27. Expectations seemed to be higher for him at the start of the year. Everything about his game screams “solid NHL player” but doesn’t strike me as someone with elite skill. While watching him, he kind of reminded me of J.T. Compher in a way, as he can be used in all situations but doesn’t really stand out all that much. At #27, getting a player that has a similar career trajectory to Compher would hardly be a bad thing. He’d be a safe, but not sexy pick.”

Elite Prospects had him ranked 14th overall, and compared him to Mark Scheifele. Hockey Prospect had him rated at 18th, and here’s what some anonymous NHL scouts said about Ritchie.

“He is smart and skilled and played with nobody. I’ll cut him some slack.”

“He is talented but I feel like he’s never going to reach his potential. I expect more and never see it.”

“I think you have to cut him some slack considering he wasn’t playing at 100% all year.”

“He was pretty good at the U18 but I expected that…a lot more open ice which suits his game.He doesn’t play much in the dirty areas.”

Like I mentioned before, I think he’s a relatively safe pick. He’s got skill and is very smart, but I don’t necessarily love the pick. He’s got a lot to prove next year, and hopefully he’ll be healthy enough to show what he’s capable of.

The Avalanche have one more selection in the first round. We’ll see if they make it.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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