Nick Ritchie Q&A with Peterborough Petes head coach Jody Hull

Nick Ritchie
Nick Ritchie (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images).

Happy NHL Draft Day. Below is a quick interview between Alec Brownscombe and Peterborough Petes’ head coach Jody Hull about projected top 10 pick, Nick Ritchie.

MLHS: Size can be a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to evaluating hockey prospects. Nice to have — and much preferred, skill sets being equal — but can sometimes allow a player to dominate a junior league in a way he won’t be able to in the pros. How much stock should we put in physical maturity when talking about 18 year old kids in general and Nick Ritchie specifically?

Jody Hull: I think it goes hand in hand with making your jump to the next level. I think Nick Ritchie is a pretty smart, intelligent hockey player with pretty good offensive instincts. I think, in the physical element in the game, he has the ability to separate guys from the puck and be very effective with it. I think he takes advantage of that really well at our level and even sometimes at the international level, as he has when he’s played in different tournaments for Canada.

MLHS: How do you evaluate Nick Ritchie’s skill set apart from his size? Is it fair to break his game down in such a way, or is it too interlaced?

Hull: It’s too interlaced. Because of his size, he gets lots of space at our level, but he’s got great hands — Ritchie was a lacrosse player when he was younger, so he’s got some pretty good hands — good vision on the ice, and I think they just go hand in hand with your typical power forward.

MLHS: How far away do you think Nick Ritchie is from playing in the NHL? He certainly has the size to jump right into the NHL (if, say, the Leafs picked him, he’d be their biggest player, instantly), and he’s skating looks to be up to par. How would you rate him in terms of his closeness to NHL readiness? Is his skating NHL-quick yet?

Hull: I think Ritchie’s totally ready from a physical standpoint, size wise and how he plays the game. I think there would be no problem that way. But, again, it’s tough to say because every team is different and sees things a little bit differently than we do. WIth that being said, I think one more year of junior hockey would be huge for him just in his overall development as a total player and package, so when he does take the step to the NHL he’s ready in every aspect.

MLHS: What skills of Ritchies are at an NHL level already and what needs a little more development time?

Hull: For me, Nick’s shot is by far NHL ready. His passing and all that, his instincts that way, are all NHL ready. I think the biggest thing for him is developing his overall game both ways. That’s a process a lot of guys have to get through in junior to become pro players, but with the defensive part of the game, his awareness will need to get better and he’ll be fine.

MLHS: How much of a factor was Hunter Garlent’s trade in January from Guelph to Peterborough in his later-season success? Ritchies seemed to really step it up after he arrived (20pts in 11games) in January. Why did they work so well together?

Hull: Well, I think they knew each other as friends, they had played together in different competitions as far as under 17s and under 18 championships. Their games suit each other; Hunter is a smaller guy but competes hard, he’s not afraid to go into corners and get pucks. I think their offensive instincts set off each other and they were able to dominate offensively. When you have the size of a guy like Nick Ritchie, it sets a little bit of fear in the opponent. I think that’s what happened when the two of them played together.

MLHS: A few scouting services have mentioned question marks about Nick’s ability to play a consistent game.

Hull: I think that [assessment] is fair for me. That’s how I see it with him. I think that’s why that one more year would be effective for him to develop those skills that are going to be needed to play at the NHL level.

MLHS: What do you make of the conditioning concerns talked about in some of the scouting reports? Is Nick at his ideal playing weight already, above it or has some room to add more bulk?

Hull: He’s probably got a little bit of room to improve, just like how any kid has room to improve. I think, with Nick, his weight is at 225 right now, or in that area, but at the end of the day he’s probably going to play right around that at the NHL level. It’s just a matter of filling out a little more, physically-muscle wise. Weight will fluctuate a little bit, but I don’t see [conditioning] being a big issue.

  • BigTO

    Came through pretty loud and clear for me that he’s no Biggs. “Great hands.”
    Makes all the difference when you can create the space physically and actually inflict damage with it.

  • ShotgunCharlie

    @BigTO Too bad there was not a question about his past injury(ies)

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Love reading this interview.  Great work getting a Coach of a prospect to comment candidly on that player.

    You know how I feel about Ritchie, and this article does nothing to hurt that.

    Thanks Boys !!

  • Uncle Otis

    He’ll be great in Calgary or, gulp,… Vancouver

  • BigTO

    TheCanucksnaphook Alec has a way of asking questions that get good answers out of hockey ppl.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    @BigTO TheCanucksnaphook Thanks guys. A quickie as far as our usual interviews go but hope it provided a little insight at least.

  • Uncle Otis

    Alec Brownscombe TheCanucksnaphook 
    Good job Boss and even better timing
    Sadly,I think he’s long gone before 8

  • Favell66

    Thanks for the interview , very insightful

  • ShotgunCharlie

    This guy had some big question marks on him. Tough call to make given his size. Would look great with Monahan in Calgary

  • Hifi75

    ShotgunCharlie  Would look great with Kadri

  • docyqx

    thanks for the write up, and the interview Alec.

    Nick Ritchie is just what the Leafs need, ……patrolling Kadri’s wing for years to come…
    He’s got the size and the hands to be a very good 2nd line winger, give him a centre like Kadri and you have some explosive offence.

  • Hifi75

    docyqx  lol just said that

  • dlb Mad

    this cements Ritchie as my 1st hopeful

  • dlb Mad

    Leivo-Kadri-Ritchie long term

  • Hifi75

    dlb Mad  I still want the big German kid as my first choice (believe he could be a franchise C ) but Ritchie is my 2. Then Nylander

  • dlb Mad

    if Draisitle drops to 8 and Ritchie is still on the board, i think we’ll see Nonis and Morrisson’s heads spin a full 360 degrees before they settle on one

  • Hifi75

    dlb Mad Hifi75  Hell trade Lupul.

    Michalek – Kadri -Ritchie

  • Wardus

    After reading this I’m less sold on Ritchie.  Funny how we all interpret things differently.  Thanks for this Alec.

  • docyqx

    Hifi75 dlb Mad  I think Lupul would be the better compliment to both Kadri / Ritchie, just a little more veteran presence and chemistry has already begun between Kadri and Lup’s.

  • Hifi75

    dlb Mad Hifi75  If that happens I will feel like a horny 18 year old in a whore house.  Like both and see huge advantages to both but That Draisitle kid is going to be really good

  • Anthony Petrielli

    This is very minuscule- Ritchie is a lefty. He is a left winger. Stop putting him on the right side of lines!

  • Hifi75

    docyqx Hifi75 dlb Mad  Lupul for me although I like him, makes to much $ for being always injured

  • wiski

    Good questions Alec, if he’s still there at 8 wonder what the leafs will do.

  • ShotgunCharlie

    Anthony Petrielli Would you take this kid at 8?

  • loomx

    Anthony Petrielli Yeah, Lupul probably won’t be here in a couple years(at most) anyway
    Ritchie-Kadri-Leivo(LW but he’s a righty)

  • Hifi75

    loomx Anthony Petrielli  Levio and Lupul play both do they not

  • wiski

    Anthony Petrielli Lupul prefers the offside it could be his preference

  • loomx

    Hifi75 loomx Anthony Petrielli Both LW but maybe he can be moved to RW. Or whatever, fuck it:

  • Hifi75

    wiski Anthony Petrielli  I believe your right about his preference but I would be curious to know his numbers as both

  • leafmealone

    Reading between the lines this was not an all out glowing endorsement.

  • Optimustic

    I think Ritchie’s a very good pick,  is he the best player available? I’ll leave that up to Nonis and company, I hope we get the 1C we need, but if we can’t I’d take Ritchie or Virtenan (sp ) happily.

  • Leafbites

    Thanks Alec, I agree with folks that think Hull sounds guarded in this interview

  • rickpearce76

    dlb Mad Hifi75 God. If that happens and they take Ritchie the earth might explode.

  • Pent_House

    loomx Hifi75 Anthony Petrielli Leivo plays every forward position. Ritchie plays both wings.

  • Mattmark

    Obviously, the focus is going to be on Day One and the first-rounders.  But the most crucial day for Leafs may well turn out to be tomorrow.  It’s crucial that we end up with genuine future value from picks 3 through seven, or we’re never going to catch the teams we’re chasing.  Taking a Ritchie, Ehlers, Fleury, Nylander or Virtanen today won’t do it.

  • JMAC17

    Ditched work early!  Pumped for tonight.

    Hope there are some fireworks!

  • The_Polish_Cannon

    JMAC17 we’re over at the mashup!

  • gjdevlin

    I think we should hunker down a bit and pluck at least one of the three available “C”s if possible and stuff him down the farm for a year.

    I was thinking about Riemer a bit. If we do retain him as back up, remember, Carlye’s “buddies” are gone so it will no longer be 3 against 1 – he will have two new coaches to bolster him if Randy goes sour on him – remember – Randy IS the odd man out if he’s not listening to his two assistant coaches.

    Josh Leivio, Peter Holland and Smith will probably make the jump to plug in a few holes in the 3rd and 4th lines. Maybe Jerry D’Amico to the 4th line.

    If Dan Boyle joins us as a UFA next week I think he will be a nice addition at a reasonable price?

    I expect the Leafs to be low key in this draft and heading into the UFA’s. I would be shocked if we landed Statsny but I don’t think it will happen. This is a weak draft and UFA year.

    What if we signed Brad Richards for a two year deal at 1.5 per? He would add some veteran presence and might be motivated to recharge himself and prove the Rangers wrong.

    Honestly, I expect the starting lineup to be at least 85% of what we had last year.

    Either way – go Leafs go!

  • Xxxxxnew

    Ritchie was a lacrosse player. That’s a plus on my ballot.

  • Xxxxxnew

    So Kessler got his wish.

  • rustynail

    leafmealone or a junior coach who wants his star back next season