AVALANCHE

Avalanche take Calum Ritchie with their first pick in the first round

Jun 28, 2023, 8:14 PM

On a night that saw Connor Bedard, one of the most-hyped prospects in recent NHL history, go No. 1 overall to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Colorado Avalanche had two picks in the first round of the draft. At No. 27, they made their first selection, taking Calum Ritchie. He’s a center out of Oakville, Ontario, who last played for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL.

According to EliteProspects.com, a site that had Ritchie ranked No. 14 overall, he’s a solid player. He fell due to a shoulder injury that limited him last season in Oshawa.

Ritchie’s hockey sense is his defining quality – his separating skill. In the offensive zone, that means supporting the puck carrier, connecting plays, anticipating gaps in coverage, identifying where to position himself off-puck, and controlling his skating to arrive in the right places at the right time. Even when his team does lose possession, Ritchie has what it takes to win it back, leveraging himself against opponents physically, cutting through their hands, and putting his team right back on the attack.

There was an expectation that the Avs would package their two first-round picks, Nos. 27 and 31, for a veteran player. But on a night that saw very little movement on the trade market, Colorado stood pat, made their initial pick and added depth to the roster.

When Calum will be able to make an impact at the highest level remains to be seen. Roughly 12 months after winning the Stanley Cup, the Avalanche are still in a championship window. How an 18-year-old center can help on that front remains to be seen.

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