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Avalanche’s Calum Ritchie May Energy His Method Onto Opening Day Lineup – The Hockey Writers – Colorado Avalanche

On Monday, the Colorado Avalanche formally signed Calum Ritchie to a three-year entry-level contract (ELC). Ritchie was by far probably the most gifted participant on the growth camp final week and was rewarded for it. In an offseason full of questions in regards to the opening day roster and lingering accidents, just like the Valeri Nichushkin and Gabriel Landeskog conditions, this signing was one many Avalanche followers have been hoping for.

Most of the group’s highly-touted prospects have already signed their ELC, like Nikolai Kovalneko, Sean Behrens, and now Ritchie, who will attempt to make the soar to the NHL sooner somewhat than later, given their efficiency within the minor leagues. The Avalanche know easy methods to draft and develop their gamers and guarantee that each spot within the lineup is earned, particularly with their window for one more Stanley Cup in sight.

Ritchie suffered important setbacks main as much as the 2023 Draft, when he was chosen twenty seventh total, together with a shoulder harm sustained on the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that affected his draft place. As he prepares for the upcoming season, Ritchie stays targeted on honing his abilities, gaining energy, and proving his price for a everlasting spot on Colorado’s roster.

Who Is Calum Ritchie?

Calum Ritchie is 6-foot-2, 187 kilos, 19 years outdated, and performs heart. He was ranked a lot increased than the place he was chosen because of the shoulder harm suffered within the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which left many groups questioning how severe it may very well be and the way it may have an effect on his play.

His play thrives off his offensive recreation, however he continues to enhance in all areas. His shot is highly effective, not probably the most harmful you may have seen, however left with sufficient time and house, he could make opponents pay when he picks a nook and rifles it in. His playmaking has grown considerably, permitting seamless cross-ice passes rapidly, spreading the defence and making them scramble.

Calum Ritchie, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s coming off a dominant season with the Oshawa Generals, the place he scored 28 targets and 80 factors in 50 video games, main the group in factors and assists. As soon as he returned from shoulder surgical procedure in early November, he was one of many high gamers within the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Within the playoffs, he picked up 30 factors in 21 video games and helped Oshawa attain the OHL Closing earlier than dropping to the London Knights in 4 video games. He once more led the Generals in factors and assists within the playoffs and was second in factors and assists throughout the OHL playoffs, behind Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowen.

What Can Ritchie Carry to the Lineup?

Ritchie’s recreation revolves round offence, and what higher group to affix than the Avalanche, the place it’s all about fast-paced offence centred round elite expertise? Because the Generals’ top-line heart, Ritchie primarily had the puck on his stick with drive the offence. Surrounded by gamers just like the latest third total decide within the 2024 NHL Entry Draft Beckett Sennecke, his playmaking has improved at discovering the open shooter whereas taking issues into his personal palms and discovering the shot if he sees match.

He may match anyplace within the Avalanche lineup, however Logan O’Connor, Nikolai Kovalenko or Artturi Lehkonen may actually assist his recreation, taking part in with gamers who can shoot effectively, are quick and can assist defensively.

Associated: Avalanche Prospect Calum Ritchie Talks Draft, OHL & Future

He may additionally make a big effect on the ability play. It might take a miraculous present of talent to earn time on the highest power-play unit, however he may simply assist the second unit, with gamers like Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Ross Colton and Miles Wooden surrounding him to point out what he can do, permitting his passing recreation to take a again seat to his shot.

He could not have a power-play shot like Leon Draisaitl or Alexander Ovechkin, however he has improved his off-the-puck recreation. He skates effectively and positions himself successfully to obtain passes from his teammates. Given the chance to shoot, he can rating with precision. His robust off-the-puck play and excessive hockey IQ ought to assist him develop additional with the Avalanche, enhance his abilities, and make performs on his personal.

What Holds Him Again From Enjoying This Season

The primary issue that may stop Ritchie from making the opening-night roster is his place. He performs heart, and proper now, the third line would be the best choice for him. Final season, the road consisted of Wooden, Colton, and O’Connor, and I believe Ritchie may mesh effectively with O’Connor when he returns from surgical procedure rehab. Wooden brings glorious pace and a veteran presence to the road, which might power Colton to play heart on the fourth line. Nevertheless, with a cap hit of $4 million, that’s an costly fourth-line heart.

If head coach Jared Bednar doesn’t see match to interrupt up the third line or they’re performing effectively (which they did final season), Ritchie’s solely place left exterior the third line is the fourth line. This resolution may hinder Ritchie’s development and growth and waste his skills on a line that performs round 10 minutes a recreation.

Nathan MacKinnon is a lock because the top-line heart, and Casey Mittelstadt just lately acquired a contract extension and can seemingly return to the second line. On paper, there isn’t any actual house for a younger heart like Ritchie, and he has by no means performed out of place. His recreation, measurement and talents are all developed to be a middle, and it may very well be a danger to maneuver him to the wing simply to suit him into the lineup.

His entry-level contract gained’t kick in till Ritchie performs ten video games for the Avalanche this season. If he doesn’t make the group, he’ll return to the Generals. One other 12 months within the OHL wouldn’t be a nasty factor, as he’ll solely flip 20 on Jan. 21. The Avalanche additionally don’t must rush to get him into the lineup; they’ve key gamers already. Their focus needs to be on Ritchie’s growth.

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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