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Player Review: Nick Ritchie
By Mario Ramirez
With hopes of a breakout season for Nick Ritchie, the 2017-18 season was somewhat of a disappointment. The former 2014 first round overall 10th pick scored only 10 goals and added 17 assists for a total of 27 points. The big left-winger played in 76 contests a year after playing in 77. The hope going into the season was that Ritchie could up his goal scoring to help offset the lack of scoring by Corey Perry.
With all the early season injuries, the Ducks had a lot of different line combinations. Making it difficult for Ritchie to find any continuity with what seemed like different linemates every night. On November 30th2017 the Ducks made a trade that sent Sami Vatanen to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, and a 3rdround pick. Shortly after that Ritchie was put on a line that consisted of Ritchie, Henrique, and Kase. They developed chemistry quickly and helped push the Ducks to a 2ndplace finish in the Pacific division and playoff berth.
However, the majority of the goal scoring came from Kase and Henrique. Ritchie tried to throw his big body around but seemed to lack discipline at times. Ritchie took too many penalties at inopportune times. While at times his physical play was a welcome and needed sight, the lack of discipline was evident. He ended the season with 72 penalty minutes good for second on the team behind Kevin Bieksa.
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Ritchie is a restricted free agent this offseason and the Ducks have issued him a qualifying offer. However important questions will have to be asked and answered about Ritchie. Many see Ritchie as the type of big bruising player that the NHL seems to be moving away from. At just 22 years of age can Ritchie be a productive player in today’s NHL? Will the Ducks look to trade Ritchie this offseason and try to get some value back? If so how much value does he really have? Do the Ducks give the Henrique, Kase and Ritchie line another year to see if they can carry over the chemistry they developed over the last months of the season? All questions Bob Murray will have to weigh as he decides the direction the Ducks will take into the 2018-19 season.
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July 1st, 2018