Despite the immense disappointment from the 2022-23 season, we’re closing in on the NHL entry draft a few weeks away from today, and the Rangers’ tragic collapse in the first round means that they do actually have their own 1st round pick this time. It’s 23rd overall and the Rangers’ prospect pool could really use it with the recent moves that have sent the kids of the future away. Whether it’s Barron, Skinner, or any of the picks the Blueshirts have dealt, they could use more talent.
Tankathon has the 23rd pick of the NHL draft as center Calum Ritchie of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. This is a player that somewhat divides opinions. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Ritchie as high as 13th in the draft, while other outlets such as SMAHT Scouting have him as a candidate to fall out of the first round and into the early second. There are no certainties in the draft anyway, but this seems to be a true wild-card pick.
Ritchie is just 18 and he’s already 6’2, 190 lbs. For a man that is already larger than a refrigerator, there’s more than just a big body. In this last season as an alternate captain for the Generals, Ritchie put up 24 goals and 35 assists for 59 points in 59 games. A solid point-a-game total for a player of his stature is a good sign. If he can make that transition to the NHL, he’d become one of the best players in the league.
Yeah, if only things were that simple. However, Ritchie did also put up 3 goals and 6 helpers at the World Junior Championships for 9 points in just 7 games. While those aren’t the 150 points Connor Bedard put up at the World Juniors, it’s nothing to turn your nose up at. There’s some upside with this player and the fact he was already an alternate with the Generals shows he’s got some leadership qualities too.
In terms of making an NHL impact, I’d have to imagine Ritchie is still at least two years away. He’s got a lot of developing to do, but the Rangers are clearly set down the middle for the time being. A prospect like this could also be used as the centerpiece of a trade deadline deal to load up for the Stanley Cup playoffs. That pure size aspect does make it seem more than feasible for the organization to be interested.