By Eldon MacDonald
30. Brett Ritchie - “Mr. So-Close-to-Awesome” - RW - Canada
Vitals: Size - 6’3”, 210 lb.; Shoots right; Born: 1-Jul-93 - Orangeville, ON
Team: Sarnia, OHL
2010-11 Stats: 49-21-20-41-47-(-1) + U18 7-4-3-7-0-(+0)
30 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
30 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
30 - ISS per TSN
36 - Bob MacKenzie's June Poll of Scouts
41 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (36th North American skater)
42 - Kirk Luedeke's Top 50
44 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
44 - Future Considerations Final Rankings
49 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
54 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
58 - The Hockey News per TSN
44 - Dallas Stars
He’s so close to awesome
He almost got it done
He’s so close to awesome
He got them on the run
He’s soo close to awesome
He’s soo close to awesome
He’s was so close to awesome that he almost got it done. That just about sums up Brett Ritchie’s U18 experience. Like the regular season, Brett started the U18 slowly, played tentatively, didn’t engage physically enough and was disappointing in his overall performance. However, as the tournament wound down and every play started to matter, a different Brett Ritchie started to emerge - a player the coaches wanted out in the key situations, a player who wanted to be counted on and a player who could and did make a difference. Here’s how it went down for the last three games for Canada in the tournament:
- Quarterfinal - win - 3-2 over Germany - Ritchie one goal
- Semi-final - overtime loss - 5-4 to USA - Canada storms back in the last 12 minutes of regulation time from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game - only to lose in overtime. Ritchie - two goals and one assist, including the goal at 49:15 of the third to make it 4-2 plus an assist on the 4-3 goal at 58:25 with the goalie out.
- Bronze-medal game - loss - 6-4 to Russia - Canada again storms back, this time from a 5-2 deficit to make it 5-4 only to lose on an empty net goal. - Ritchie a goal and an assist including the goal to make it 5-4 at 58:20 of the third with the goalie out.
Yes, he was this close to awesome and while he didn’t get it done, he sure had them on the run (along with his Team Canada teammates).
So what makes Brett Ritchie so close to awesome. Here are a few things that caused Brett to be one of the most sought after guys at the Combine (being one of only four players to be interviewed by 29 of the 30 teams):
- Size - The guy has a true power forward size at 6’3, 210 lb. Add an enormous wingspan (78.5’’, that’s wider than 6’7’’ Jamieson Oleksiak) and you have a guy who can take up a lot of room in front of the net. Add a pair of hands that can do something with a tip-in and you now know why he was out on the ice when the goalie was pulled at the U18’s. He has also been known to throw a few but that is not his game unless he is sticking up for his teammates.
- A bear on the wall - Put your green bins away when this guy is around because he is a bear on the wall whether it is protecting the puck or going after the puck. He simply owns the wall when he is on and unless you are prepared to be green bin splatter you might as well get out of the way. A guy like Brett is essential to maintain puck possession on your power plays and when you go all out and pull the goalie in a last gasp effort.
- Shot - Brett has a hard, accurate wrist shot which he uses effectively coming in off the right side.
- Intelligence - Brett has the hockey sense to know how to maximize his physical tools.
- Genes - Brett comes from a hockey family. His Dad (Paul) played in the OHL and his younger brother (Nicholas) was so highly rated in this year’s OHL draft that he was picked second overall.
- Character - Brett is a character guy which is why he was Assistant Captain of Team Canada at the U18’s. He is very coachable and is defensively responsible.
- Resume - Brett’s international resume includes the following:
- Gold - 2010 Ivan Hlinka with Team Canada
- Silver - 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge with Team Ontario
- Fourth - 2011 U18’s with Team Canada
Brett is by no means perfect. Like the U18’s, Brett’s regular season started out disappointingly and he was just starting to bring it when he got injured. After he got back from injury, he contacted mono so his regular season results are not as close to awesome (47 points in 49 games) as you would expect for a player with his skills. Brett needs to bring both a consistency to his physicality and to work on his domination skills to bring out the awesomeness that many of us (including me) believe that is there. He also is not the best skater in the world (acceleration or agility) but he is plenty fast when he gets up to speed and is strong enough on his skates that he can bowl over an unexpecting defenseman.
Brett is a consensus second round pick who I have in the first round. What can I say, I believe that Brett has the potential for “awesome” and that some team is prepared to pay first round for that awesome.