Anaheim Ducks: It’s Time to Look at Nick Ritchie in a New Light

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 14: Nick Ritchie #37 of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 6-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 14: Nick Ritchie #37 of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 14, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 6-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Nick Ritchie has received a lot of criticism from Anaheim Ducks fans for not living up to his “top 10” potential. However, it’s time we put that aside and look at him with a fresh perspective.

Who is more hated by the Anaheim Ducks fanbase than the king of the sin bin himself, Nick Ritchie? Selected 10th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the young left-wing has yet to live up to his “top 10” potential, and it’s unlikely that he ever will. It is also hard to look past his recklessness, as he tends to hurt his team rather than help them. Nevertheless, despite his flaws, that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a valuable asset to the organization.

When you strip away the immaturity and tendency to lose his temper, you’re still left with the foundation of a pretty good NHL player. He has steadily improved over the course of four seasons, proving that he can be effective in a middle-six role. While most people are calling for him to be traded, what Ritchie really needs is the right coach to guide him and keep him accountable.

Last season, there could not have been a worse environment for Ritchie than the one created by Randy Carlyle. Negativity breeds negativity, and when you have a player who already struggles with his anger, that toxicity is only going to fuel the fire. There was absolutely no accountability for anyone, and that allowed Ritchie to get away with his actions without being reprimanded.

I think we often forget that last summer, he trained harder than he ever had before in order to find and improve himself. When he returned, after his contract fiasco, he posted seven points in his first six games. In his first 13 games, he only took 3 penalties. Nevertheless, things began to snowball out of control with the rest of the team and Ritchie resorted back to his old ways, and it all lines up with the timeline of the first losing streak.

A Good Foundation is a Good Start

In the past, I’ve compared Nick Ritchie to Corey Perry, and I stand by that statement. The only difference is, Perry is the brand name, while Ritchie is the generic version. Both serve the same purpose, they get the job done, they’re just packaged differently. Over the course of his 14-year career with the Anaheim Ducks, Perry has more PIM than he does career points (1,110 PIM to be exact.)

However, the biggest difference between Perry and Ritchie is that CP10 doesn’t allow himself to get lost in his anger. He can still produce points and be effective on the ice. Ritchie has nights where his production is impressive. But, if you flip the coin, when he gets angry, his temper gets the best of him and really hinders him on the ice.

Regardless, as previously mentioned, Ritchie still has a good foundation. He just needs a little bit of a remodel. Last season, he was on pace to have a 42 point year. Unfortunately, drawn out contract negotiations and a few injuries held him back from reaching those totals.

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His size is impressive, and he knows how to use every inch of his 6’3” frame to gain the upper hand. When he uses his physicality properly, he can be an absolute pest for the opposing team in the best way possible. Despite his size, Ritchie is still quick on his feet, which will aid him well as the Anaheim Ducks transition into a more relevant style of hockey.

What makes Ritchie so valuable to the lineup isn’t that he is a power forward, it’s that he is a power forward with talent. That is a rare commodity in the NHL these days. As he matures (history shows that most power forwards reach full maturity between the ages of 22 and 24), learns to control his temper, and lets his skills speak for him, he will be a player that other teams fear going up against.

Nick Ritchie Could Thrive Under Dallas Eakins

Dallas Eakins has the reputation of being a coach who is invested in his players. We saw the likes of Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Max Jones grow under his guidance. It’s going to be tricky, however. It isn’t like Ritchie and Eakins haven’t been down this road before. Prior to being on the Anaheim Ducks roster full time, he spent some time down in San Diego, and while his PIM were the lowest they had been in a while, they still weren’t impressive.

Still, Ritchie did take steps in getting his attitude in check before the 2018-19 season. He looked slightly more reserved and composed until everything hit the fan. Eakins seems to be genuinely invested in the success of this team, and I think that will benefit Ritchie tremendously. Not only does winning give the spirit an extra boost, but so does having the knowledge you’ve been improving, even in the midst of a loss.

Going from a toxic environment to an environment that sparks positive change, character building, and confidence, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ritchie does a complete 180 going into the 2019-20 season. It is clear that Bob Murray sees his potential, or he would have already been shipped to another team. It makes you wonder if maybe Ritchie was one of those players Murray saw in a new light when he took his post behind the bench.

While he may have fallen short of his “top 10” title, had he reached that potential, the Anaheim Ducks would have been doing him a huge disservice keeping him in Orange County. With all of that being said, this doesn’t mean you have to like him. Nevertheless, we better get used to seeing him around, because this team is better when he’s on the ice whether we like it or not.

Next. The Return of Randy Carlyle. dark

Are you willing to put the past in the past and look at Nick Ritchie in a new light? Let us know by leaving a comment for us down below!