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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #3 Calum Ritchie

Do the Avalanche finally have an answer at 2C?

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NHL Top Prospects Portrait Shoot Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Five writers have ranked players under the age of 25 in the Colorado Avalanche organization as of July 1, 2023. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

Calum Ritchie has been a top NHL prospect for quite some time and now he is the top hopeful for the Avalanche, who took him with their first selection in the 2023 NHL draft at 27th overall. The right shot center is entering his third season in the OHL and should sign his Entry Level Contract and join the organization in two years.

Selected at second overall in the OHL draft Ritchie has been in the spotlight for several years already. He is also familiar with pushing through adversity and spent the entire COVID-19 cancelled season in 2020-21 training with his older brother and working with a nutritionist, partly inspired by Nathan MacKinnon.

Then, his first season in 2021-22 with the Oshawa Generals Ritchie put up good numbers for his rookie season scoring 45 points in 65 games and made the OHL All-Rookie first team. He certainly caught the eye of the Avalanche staff as fellow prospect Oskar Olausson finished his season and OHL career with Oshawa in 2022.

Ritchie was ready to start his draft year off with a bang as he led the entire 2022 Hlinka Gretzky tournament in scoring with 10 points including four goals in five games to help Canada claim the gold medal. But Ritchie suffered a shoulder injury in the process which would hamper him all season yet he did not miss much playing time.

For his second year in the OHL big things were expected of Ritchie to put up numbers that would solidify him at the top of the draft class but a combination of factors including the lingering shoulder issue and a team that would fall to the bottom of the league didn’t offer much support to Ritchie in such an important year. Still, he increased his production from the previous season to 59 points with 24 goals in 59 games and was a primary driver of Oshawa’s offense.

At the conclusion of Oshawa’s season Ritchie was able to join Canada for the U18 World Chzmpionship where he again was a top producer for team Canada. Despite reinjuring his shoulder Ritchie was third on the team in production with nine points including three goals in seven games and was named as one of the top three players on the team after they won the bronze medal.

Going into the draft there were split opinions on Ritchie, one camp who saw him as a guy who impressed at the Hlinka but didn’t live up to the hype and the other who saw an injured player making the best of what he was given and still put up a point-per-game season. There’s those who don’t see anything flashy about his game and see Ritchie as just another average OHL center and the others who believe he has all the tools the become a highly impactful player at the next level. The Avalanche clearly are in the second camp.

To illustrate the type of talent Ritchie possesses, an excerpt from Bob McKenzie’s pre-season draft rankings released last September.

6. Cal Ritchie. The Oshawa Generals centre has the size, skating and skill combination that project him to have a good chance to be a high-end No. 2 NHL centre and the upside to be a lower-case No. 1 pivot in the NHL. Leo Carlsson and Ritchie couldn’t have been closer in the 5-6 slots.

Yes, that Leo Carlsson who went second overall. Now, Ritchie is going to have to put in a lot of hard work to rise among the elite of his 2023 draft class but the talent is there for a high enough ceiling to have a real impact on the Avalanche. There is potential that Ritchie could become the answer at second-line center because he has all the attributes of size, right handed shot, hockey IQ and playmaking ability. Therefore, the number three ranking and top prospect in our poll is justified.

Hopefully the six-foot-two center can have a big year with Oshawa to start getting some momentum towards those lofty goals. After getting the problematic shoulder fixed over the summer Ritchie is in line for a big year. It is possible Ritchie may also find himself as part of team Canada at the World Junior Championship this winter as someone who has performed well for the program in the past and was also invited to their summer meetings. If not, he will have another year of eligibility for the 2025 WJC and is certainly on the short list for that team. But there is a lot to be excited for this new prospect to the organization.

2023 Top 25 Under 25

#4 Mikhail Gulyayev

#5 Nikolai Kovalenko

#6 Sean Behrens

#7 Jean-Luc Foudy

#8 Oskar Olausson

#9 Justus Annunen

#10 Ben Meyers

#11 Sam Malinksi

#12 Jason Polin

#13 Ondrej Pavel

#14 Alex Beaucage

#15 Sampo Ranta

#16 Taylor Makar

#17 Jeremy Hanzel

#18 Trent Miner

#19 Colby Ambrosio

#20 Gianni Fairbrother

#21 Matt Stienburg

#22 Chris Romaine

#23 Maros Jedlicka

#24 Andrei Buyalsky

#25: Nikita Ishimnikov