The Canes have the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which begins Friday night. This week, CanesNow has been looking at potential picks.
Today: Nick Ritchie
No one questions Nick Ritchie's size, strength or mobility. He's 6-2 and 226 pounds and he can move.
"He's similar to Jake Virtanen of Calgary," said Tony MacDonald, the Canes' director of amateur scouting. "He may not skate quite as well as Virtanen but he's a big, strong guy who plays a power game.
“He’s someone nobody wants to mess with. His reputation is that he is very, very tough."
Ritchie had 39 goals last season for Peterborough (OHL), but the left wing never had a bigger night than an early February game against Kingston. He scored five times and added an assist in the Petes’ 7-6 shootout loss to the Frontenacs.
The last OHL player to score five goals in a game? His brother, Brett, for Niagara in November 2012.
Nick Ritchie, ranked seventh among North American skaters by Central Scouting, finished with 74 points in 61 regular-season games for the Petes, then 10 points in 11 postseason games. Against Kingston, the Petes rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win the series as Ritchie scored the Game 7 overtime winner.
"He's just overpowers people," MacDonald said. "Controlling the puck in the corners, the cycle game, going to the net, he'd overpower people. He plays a heavy game.
"To have a 74-point season at Peterborough, that's pretty good. He also had 136 penalty minutes."
The biggest question about Ritchie was his consistency of effort. He had good games and bad, playing a strong, overpowering game followed by an average game.
'That's the problem: he can be inconsistent," MacDonald said. "That can happen at a young age. But he's one of those power guys everybody would like to have. Every team can use one."
Including the Canes. General manager Ron Francis says he’d like more size. Ritchie has it.