Prospectus Prospecting the AHL Pacific Division – Nick Ritchie plus five

Scouting Report – Nick Ritchie

Bio
Team: San Diego Gulls                      Draft Status: 10th overall, 2014 (Anaheim)
Position: LW
To Date Stats: 25GP, 14G, 9A, 23pts, 51 PIMs
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’2” 232lbs

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Skating is perhaps one of the weakest areas of the power forward’s game. There is not much explosiveness to his stride, nor is there a high top end speed. His heavy game does not really call for much explosive skating, but it could help in gaining separation from defenders. Wide stride, and can look a tad uncomfortable in open ice. It is an industrious, big man style of skating, but it gets the job done. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Veiled release on his wrist shot. Plenty of power and accuracy as well. It is a very quick, low action release, which allows him to get it off in very tight spaces, giving goalies very little time to react. He is a trash picker kind of goal scorer primarily, so this makes scoring in tight areas like right out in front that much easier. He doesn’t get much chance to wind up on slappers often, but that too is a fairly heavy yet more erratic shot. The quick wrister is something that will score him many goals in the future. Grade: 60

Puck Skills
He isn’t much for one on one skill on the rush or in open ice, but Ritchie does well in keeping the puck on his stick. This becomes extremely evident when he gets the puck along the boards. His possession game is top notch in that area. He also has pretty soft hands for a big guy, and can make things happen with very little time and space. Grade: 60 

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
There is a simplistic approach about Ritchie. He knows his strength lies within the home plate area of the O-zone, so he is constantly present in that area. With that in mind, he should be able to stick in almost any offensive system if he keeps his game that simple. Defensively there does not seem to be any glaring deficiencies, and he is not a liability. He can definitely skirt a line physically and struggles with taking undisciplined penalties at times. Grade: 55

 Physicality
Ritchie is a hulking mass, a pain in the neck for defenders, and a frustrating immovable object in front of the net. He is strong, feisty, and will give it as good as he gets when establishing position in front. At 231 pounds he would be one of the heaviest forwards on the Ducks if promoted today. He uses that size to every advantage. He constantly puts himself in difficult places along the boards and in front and always manages to be a handful for defenders. While this can cause some penalty troubles at times, the fact that he shows no hesitation in asserting himself in tough areas is promising. Grade: 70

General Assessment
Ritchie is a monstrous, relentless power forward. Given the skill set he already has there is not much more he could do to maximize it at the AHL level. Skating remains an area he could improve upon, but considering where he operates skating will be secondary to getting right in the face of defenders and establishing himself in front. Think Milan Lucic. He isn’t a bad skater, it will get the job done, but it is not a plus part of his game. Everything else is already at an NHL level, and he will fit right into the Ducks system. He has an eerily similar attitude on ice to that of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to boot. He has the size and willingness to go to the front, and the shot and possession game to do damage there. He has future NHL top-6 wing written all over him.

Overall Future Projection: 57.75

 

 Scouting Report – Joni Ortio

Bio
Team: Stockton Heat              Draft Status: 171st overall, 2009 (Calgary)
Position: G
To Date Stats: 16GP (7-8-0), 3.41 GAA, .892 Sv%
Catches: L
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190lbs

Characteristics

Athleticism
Being a somewhat smaller goaltending by today’s NHL standards, Ortio has plenty in the way of athleticism. He can make some pretty acrobatic saves at times and displays fairly good reflexes.  Grade: 60

 Quickness/Speed
Lateral movement and flow does not seem to be a problem, however he can tend to over commit on side to side plays. The quickness and speed are there but the ability to control it seems off. Squares up and stays with his target well. Some better economy of movement needed. Grade: 45

Vision/Play Reading
Ortio has a lot of trouble reading plays and finding pucks in traffic. The mess in front seems to upset his balance and cause some scrambly, can’t find the puck, moments. Aerial angle and trouble picking up shots also seemed to plague him in viewings. Was aggressive and out at the top of his crease, but was beat short side, 5-hole, simply due to not being set or not knowing when and where the shot was coming from. Grade: 35

Compete/Temperament
He is aggressive, which is excellent for a goalie of his size. He was often out at the top of his crease in order to challenge shooters. When he is greeted with players in front however, he tends to sink into his net, opening more angles and holes. Did not remain aggressive when pucks came in tight. Grade: 45 

Technique/Style
Due to his size he does not play a strict butterfly, but more of a hybrid half butterfly style. Coupled with the aggression there are some Tim Thomas moments of acrobatics involved. There are some holes technically though which can lead to some truly frustrating leaky goals. Grade: 40 

Rebound Control
Not the best at cushioning or directing rebounds into harmless areas. Rebounds were heavy, and often punched right back out in dangerous areas. Grade: 40 

Puck Handling
Can handle the puck. Lays it off for defenders well, makes decent decisions in moving out in helping settle and move the puck. Grade: 50

General Assessment
Ortio, like most unorthodox, hybrid goalies, can be a tough read at times. He has the athleticism to make some remarkable saves, but often gets let down by shaky fundamentals or over-aggressive and erratic movements. Goals he was beat on often came in traffic and up close, where economy of movement, positioning, and just sound fundamental goaltending would have helped. Mentally he seemed to pick himself up after bad goals and continued to rely on his active and aggressive style. With that in mind, it is very hit and miss goaltending. He can make otherworldly saves one moment, and let a routine stop beat him short side the next. Rebound control and vision are also areas that troubled him. When presented with traffic things became visibly uncomfortable for him. These are all things that do not bode well for any sort of NHL staying power, especially if the defense cannot steer shots to less troublesome areas.

Overall Future Projection: 44.75

 

Scouting Report – Andrew Crescenzi

Bio
Team: Ontario Reign              Draft Status: Undrafted, Free Agent signing in 2010 (Toronto)
Position: C
To Date Stats: 31GP, 2G, 7A, 9P 30PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 208 lbs

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Big and lumbering. Skates like a big man. There isn’t much in the way of top end speed, agility, or explosiveness. He will get up and down the ice in good order, but his skating is certainly not a standout quality asset. Moves well enough in his own zone to be a good shot blocker. Grade: 40

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Does not display a propensity for shooting much at all. Often acts as more of a distributor or retriever of the puck. If and when he does shoot, it can be off the mark, or with limited threat. He does get in tight which allows for some put back opportunities or tip plays, but as far as pure shooting skills, there is not much here. Grade: 35

Puck Skills
Much like skating and shooting, there is not much in the way of skill for the big center. His possession play is definitely of note, and he makes good decisions on passing in the offensive zone. However, he won’t wow you with one-on-one skill or stick-handling. He does the little things well like getting pucks deep, not the flashy things. Grade: 40

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Crescenzi is an outstanding defensive player. He is, in several regards, a strictly defensive specialist for Mike Stothers and the Ontario Reign. His positioning and stick work are strong, as is his bulldog mentality and shot blocking prowess. He plays a lot of penalty kill minutes, and is often the go-to center for the Reign in PK situations. Stays low in the D-zone to help out wingers and defensemen on transition. He is simple in the offensive zone, and sticks to his dump and grind style. Altogether a very responsible low risk player. Grade: 65

Physicality
Coupled with his massive 6’5 frame, Crescenzi is always willing to grind out shifts down low, along the boards, and in front of the net. He can be a tiring player to match up against given his size and reach, and he does a decent job at protecting the puck as well. Grade: 55

General Assessment
Crescenzi is a defensive specialist if there ever was one. He is an exceptional penalty killer and defensive zone player. He often gets tough match-ups and defensive zone minutes from Mike Stothers, but does well in remaining about breakeven in possession stats. The obvious deficiency in his game comes with everything in regards to skill and flash. There just is not much at all. There is enough there to get the puck up and down the ice, but he is in no way a catalyst offensively, even with skilled linemates. He plays his role well, and his ceiling is limited to that of a low-risk 4th line defensive specialist at the next level.

Overall Future Projection: 46.75

 

Scouting Report – Patrick Sieloff

Bio
Team:  Stockton Heat             Draft Status: 42nd overall, 2012 (Calgary)
Position: D
To Date Stats: 22GP, 1G, 3A, 4pts, 22PIMS
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’1” 205lbs

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Active. Very active. For a defense first defenseman, Sieloff has outstanding speed both forwards and backwards, good edge work, and a powerful first step. He gets up and down the ice well and is not afraid to jump into plays, using his speed to get back to cover. Grade: 60

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
He is not going to blow you away with any significant shooting skill. He will throw up the occasional slapshot from the point, but as far as a bomb from the point or a powerplay quarterback style snipe, it is not there. Grade: 40

 Puck Skills
Strong passing ability, nice outlets, not much for one on one skill. Will carry the puck on occasion but normally looks to move the puck rather than take it on himself. Understandable given his role, but don’t look for massive on the puck skill: Grade: 45

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Smarts with Sieloff can be a toss up. He shows good overall defensive instincts like gap control and stick on puck ability, but can definitely have lapses on decision making. He can pinch, step up at the line, or go for a hit at inopportune times. His skating can often help him get out of trouble, but there is a bit of a wildcard nature to his thinking of the game. He is aggressive in both a good and bad way at times. He is more noticeable for the former, and with good coaching will learn to better use his smarts moving forward. Grade: 55

Physicality
Punishing. Sieloff might be one of the better open ice hitters in the AHL right now. He is mobile, sets himself well, and often goes for hits and that separate the carrier or prevent zone entries. He makes them count as well. He is feisty in the corner and in front as well. Size is not a factor and he is not afraid to battle it out with much bigger opposing forwards. Can get caught out looking for the big hit though. Grade: 60

General Assessment
Sieloff was highly thought of in his 2012 draft class, and for obvious reasons. He is a defense first leaning defenseman, with an in your face, nasty style of game. There is also room for improvement on the offensive side of things given his strong skating ability and puck movement.  He is a wildcard though, and getting him to better pick his spots will be the challenge for coaches as he develops. There are a lot of tools to like, but injury and illness related setbacks (2013-14 staph infection) have put him on a somewhat slower development path. The shine may be off of Sieloff a little, but there is still some significant boom or bust upside to him.

Overall Future Projection: 54.00

 

Prospect Report – Jujhar Khaira
Bio
Team: Bakersfield Condors                Draft Status: 63rd overall, 2012 (Edmonton)
Position: C/LW
To Date Stats: 20GP, 3G, 7A, 10pts 16 PIMs
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-3 215lbs

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Pretty explosive step allows him to get on the forecheck quickly. He could probably improve a bit on his transitional game speed, but all in all he has an average skating skill set. He is fairly agile for a big man, and has a pretty low impact stride. An extra step or two in the top end area, and perhaps a bit more quickness will do him well. Grade: 45

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
With Khaira normally remaining in tight around the net he does not get much a chance to uncork on slapshots. Tips, redirects, wristers, and put-backs are definitely more his style given the real-estate he works with. He has his stick on the ice in front and always faces the shooter, which are both good signs, but as far as pure shooting skill, do not expect a lot. Grade: 40

Puck Skills
He is pretty low flash on the puck skills. He does, however, show a spirited face-off ability which should come in handy. His game comes down to grinding out shifts and possessing the puck along the wall, which he can do quite well. He is capable of making some pretty nifty passes on either forehand or backhand in tight spaces. Not much for 1v1 stick skill, but there is some good ability hidden in his passing and possession game. Grade: 50

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Looked to be in the right position systematically in most viewings, which is excellent if he opts to play center. Stays low for his wingers, does not get sucked in too deep in the Ozone when there is too much risk. Also does not get caught stationary in his defensive zone. Heady player, eyes always up, looking at the play around him. When he shifted to wing he was available on outlets always. Grade: 60

Physicality
Khaira plays the role of power forward quite well in the physicality department. He is big, he knows he is big, and he gets right to the front of the net whenever possible. At 6’3 and almost 220 he is a pain to move, and battles hard in front to establish position. He also showed examples of being an incredibly aggressive forechecker, willing to separate stick from puck and grind out shifts on the halfwall. Puck possession also looks very good. He has the size and physicality and he uses it. Grade: 65

General Assessment
Jujhar has had his taste of the NHL already, and you can certainly tell why the Oilers gave it to him. He is a through and through power forward with good ability at both ends of the ice. He can be an ox when he gets the puck down low, and his big bodied cycle and grind game should translate well at the next level. The transition game will need a little grooming, and there is definitely a limit to how much offense he could put up, however. Nevertheless, there is plenty within the toolbox to think he could be a good bottom six forward within the Oilers organization. He can realistically eat up minutes, grind down defenders, and be a chip in offensive guy from time to time on an NHL bottom six in the future. He has size, intelligence, and a modest offensive skillset to go along with it. He can play center or wing, which adds to his overall utility.

Overall Future Projection: 51.0

 

 Prospect Report – Remi Elie

Bio
Team:  Texas Stars                 Draft Status: 40th overall in 2013 (Dallas)
Position: LW
To Date Stats: 32GP, 4g, 8a, 12p, 24PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 209lbs

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Pretty impressive skater, especially in transition. Has a slower first step, but can close down puck carriers very quickly and deceptively when he gets going. When he has the puck he can move quite well, and does not lose much speed when carrying through neutral ice. Edging is outstanding, agility is strong, explosiveness and top end might be a little bit on the developing side. Grade: 55

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Real strong release on his wrist shot. Takes his time with it, but the release has a nice disguised snap. Does not get much chance to lay into a slap shot, and will more frequently step into a high scoring area or try to find space for a wrister or one-timer. He does not have much of an above average shooting skill, but if you give him the space he has what it takes to beat goalies at the AHL level. Grade: 50

 Puck Skills
The puck skills are touch and go. Can be a very strong puck possession guy down low and on the halfwall, and can also operate in super tight spaces 1v1. However, he can try to do too much at times, leading to some turnover problems here and there. The skill is buried in his skill set somewhere, but it can be too much at times when a simple approach might do. Fights the puck when carrying and passing. Grade: 40

 Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
He is a very active and alive player. Sometimes however, his pursuit of the puck can be a bit overaggressive. This leaves him exposed potentially when it comes to teams with sharp outlets or good one on one skill. He has the speed and tenaciousness to stick in most systems, but sometimes it can be a double edged sword when it comes to overcommitting. He is a hard worker and an excellent forechecker though which will earn him many points with coaching staffs. Grade: 50

Physicality
Elie plays a very admirable physical game. He is not big by any means at 6’1”, but he plays big. He is always willing to finish a check, make body contact, and do dirty work down low and in front. Defensively he is no different. He will battle and be in your face the whole time, work a cycle shift, and hound a puck carrier with intensity. Definitely a fun player to watch work in both zones. An absolute ball of energy. Grade: 60

General Assessment
Fearless, aggressive, in your face, and quick. This pretty much sums up Remi Elie. The Texas Stars play an exceptionally aggressive style of forechecking and skating which really bodes well for showcasing his skill set. He jumps all over defenders and wingers on the forecheck, which makes breaking out a pain in the neck. He has an active stick, and a good bit of quickness that can put pressure on opposing players. That being said, despite the dogged work ethic, there is limited skill to go along with his tenacious play. He will have trouble scoring at the next level, but could figure into a capable bottom six winger role given how well he skates, forechecks, and creates havoc in the offensive zone.

Overall Future Projection: 49.75

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