The Calgary Flames love players with the last name Ritchie, so Calum Ritchie is an obvious target in the first round. Ritchie was thought of as a top-10 pick before the season started, however an underwhelming D+0 year in the OHL has dropped him down draft rankings and into the range the Flames will be picking.
Who is Calum Ritchie?
Ritchie was born in Brampton, Ontario and has played all of his junior hockey in the province. He’s a right-shot centre and possesses the size most teams look for in their centreman standing at 6’2″ with plenty of room to grow.
Ritchie is a surefire first-rounder, however he’s seen his pre-draft rank fall all over the first round. FCHockey has him ranked the highest at 10th, Bob McKenzie has him 13th, however Dobber has him 24th and The Athletic has him 27th. It’s anyone’s guess where he’ll land on draft night.
Ritchie’s on-ice production
Wood is an interesting prospect with great size, shot and hands. With great scoring ability and good hockey IQ, Wood could project on either the wing or at centre in the NHL.
|2019–20||D-3||SCTA U15||Oakville Rangers U15 AAA||30||20||39||59|
|SCTA U16||Oakville Rangers U16 AAA||2||2||1||3|
|2020–21||D-2||SCTA U16||Oakville Rangers U16 AAA||0||0||0||0|
Ritchie has taken the typical route to the draft for an Ontario-based player. He started off in his D-3 playing AAA hockey for the Oakville Rangers U15 team and even earned a couple games playing up a year for the U16 team as a 14-year-old. The following season was supposed to be his full-time debut for the U16 team but he unfortunately lost the entire year due to COVID-19 shutting down the league.
Ritchie was then taken with the second overall pick in the 2021 OHL priority draft, behind only fellow 2023 top prospect Quentin Musty. In his rookie season in the OHL as a 16-year-old, Ritchie posted 19 goals and 45 points in 65 games which ranked 16th in the league among rookies.
He also finished fourth on his team in scoring, and tops among Generals rookies. It’s also worth noting that Ritchie had an impressive run in the playoffs with four goals and seven points in six games—both of which were tied for the team lead.
This previous season Ritchie saw an increase in his goal, assist and point totals as he finished the year with 24 goals and 59 points in 59 games. The total ranked sixth among draft eligible players, and third overall on his team. Once again, Ritchie was money in the playoffs, posting six points in five games to tie for the team lead.
Ritchie represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer, posting 10 points in five games to lead team Canada and the entire tournament in points. He also posted nine points in seven games at the U18 World Championships, finishing third on team Canada in scoring.
Calum Ritchie’s strengths
Hockey IQ and vision
Arguably the best aspect of Ritchie’s game is his borderline elite hockey IQ. He’s just an incredibly smart player in both ends of the ice. He’s able to read and anticipate plays at a high level, which is always a great asset to have for a centreman. More often than not, he’s in the right place at the right time, which is a great skill to have at both ends of the ice.
Offensively he uses his high-end vision to find teammates all over the ice, as he’s able to see plays that other players simply can’t. This is why he’s likely to be more of a playmaking centre at the next level. He’s the type of centre that scoring wingers will love to play with as he’s incredibly unselfish with the puck and prefers to setup his teammates rather than score himself.
Building off of his hockey IQ, Ritchie uses his great anticipation and ability to read the play in the defensive zone as well. As a centreman he possesses strong two-way play, which is a huge bonus when talking about his future in the NHL. Ritchie is typically in a good spot to support his defenceman, and pick off passes in the defensive zone. He’s also very strong when it comes to breakouts and getting the puck up ice. He also spent a ton of time on the penalty kill this season and is very strong in the faceoff circle. Again, all the tools needed for success as a centreman in the NHL.
Skill and creativity
Perhaps an underrated aspect of Ritchie’s game is his overall skill and creativity with the puck. He shows flashes of high-end skill and possesses a ton of creativity to make plays and create scoring chances in the offensive zone. He’s very strong on the puck and has the ability to dance around opposing players when he wants. It’s certainly a rare skill for a centre standing at 6’2″. The issue is he doesn’t use this skill enough, and instead plays it very safe at times. If he were to use his puck skills more often, he’ become even more dangerous offensively.
Calum Ritchie’s areas of improvement
The biggest issue with Ritchie’s game and the main reason he’s seen his draft stock fall is the inconsistency in his game. As mentioned above, he shows flashes of high-end skill but not as much as you’d like. He can go a few shifts where he dominates offensively, then follow it up with a few shifts where he has no impact on the game. That’s certain to raise some red flags with NHL teams.
He has the talent of a top-10 pick, he just doesn’t show it nearly enough. His modest 59-point season in the OHL is a perfect example as he didn’t find the scoresheet as much as you’d like to see, and much less than you’d expect from a player with his skillset.
Lack of risk taking
Ritchie is an incredibly unselfish player with the puck, which can be a strength but also a weakness. At times he’s simply too unselfish and passes up a good scoring chance to try to force the puck to a teammate. This is reminiscent of 2022–23 Johnathan Huberdeau as a good example of what teams would like to see more from Ritchie. He has the skill to create high-danger chances for himself, but he often passes up those opportunities and plays it safe instead.
At such a young age, he just needs to find more faith in himself to make big plays instead of always looking to dish it off to his teammates for a safer play. He’s shown he can take over games at times, however more often than not he prefers to setup his teammates instead and avoids taking risks.
Calum Ritchie’s comparables
This isn’t a direct comparison, however Ritchie’s game is similar to someone like Anze Kopitar in that he provides a solid two-way game along with high-end skill and size as a centreman. He doesn’t have the ceiling that Kopitar has, but he possesses many of the same skills.
Fit with the Flames
I think Ritchies fit on the Flames really depends on the future of Elias Lindholm. As a centre, the Flames don’t have a huge need for Ritchie at this moment, however if Lindholm were to be traded they would immediately need some more centre depth in the organization.
Personally I’d much rather the Flames target a winger or defenceman at 16th overall, but Ritchie’s skillset and potential is certainly intriguing and he would provide the organization with some more depth down the middle which is never a bad thing.
Ritchie is an interesting case. He has the skill and creativity to be a top-10 pick, however he lacks the consistency and results needed to get picked there. After a season in which he didn’t produce at the level expected, some are worried his development may have already stalled.
That said if a team is willing to take a risk and hope that Ritchie can live up to his top-10 potential, he could turn out to be a steal down the line. His D+1 season in the OHL will be a huge indicator on the direction he takes. He could be in for a massive season in 2023–24.
Projection: Top-six playmaking centre
All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles
Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie
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