AVALANCHE

Avs first rounder Calum Ritchie will get chance to crack NHL roster

Jul 8, 2024, 3:10 PM

The Colorado Avalanche announced on Monday that the team has signed forward Calum Ritchie to a three-year entry-level contract—meaning the 2023 first-rounder will get a chance to play in the NHL in 2024-25.

Ritchie was taken by Colorado in the first round (27th overall) in last year’s NHL Draft. The 19-year-old played last season for the  OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tallied 80 points in 50 regular-season games, ranking sixth in the league by points per contest. The center missed 17 games but returned to help the team to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs he added another 30 points in 21 games, taking the Generals to the Finals.

At 6-foot-2 and 187 pounds, Ritchie has been in the OHL for three seasons. He’s also competed internationally for Team Canada. At the 2023 IIHF U-18 World Championship, he tallied nine points to rank third on the team in scoring as his country got bronze. He also skated to a gold for Canada at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, leading the group in points.

With the ongoing Valeri Nichushkin drama and suspension as well as Gabriel Landeskog’s long-term knee injury, may Ritchie even have a shot to slide into the top six forwards alongside Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Mikko Rantanen, Artturi Lehkonen and Casey Mittelstadt? That would push Logan O’Connor, Miles Wood and Ross Colton into a pretty formidable third line.

Ritchie can be sent back to the OHL still, but won’t be eligible for the AHL right away since he is not 20. His NHL chance is all dependent on the young Ritchie taking a big leap, but the Avs may need just that in search of forwards with a salary cap crunch.

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