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2016-17 Player Review: Nick Ritchie

by AJ Manderichio @AJManderichio / AnaheimDucks.com

Another summer is upon us, which means another round of player reviews. AnaheimDucks.com is featuring a different Ducks player throughout the summer (in numerical order), highlighting key stats while also keeping an eye on next season. We continue with Nick Ritchie.

The way Nick Ritchie's season ended took some shine off an otherwise solid sophomore season.

Handed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct in the first period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, Ritchie sat and watched his team claw back - and fall behind - in what would be its final game of the 2016-17 season.

It's an unfortunate final memory on a solid season for Ritchie, who grabbed his roster spot with another solid training camp performance. The lumbering power forward skated in 77 games, scoring 14 goals and adding 14 assists. All but two of those points came at even strength. He also led the team with 247 hits - or over three hits per game - while finishing the season playing almost 13 minutes a game.

Ritchie compiled those numbers while moving throughout the lineup. Head coach Randy Carlyle would deploy him on the third line, with Antoine Vermette and a rotating wing of Corey Perry or Ondrej Kase, or bump him to the top line with Ryan Getzlaf . With the captain, Ritchie elevated his game, seeing his Corsi-For percentage jump over two points while averaging a higher goals-per-game output.

With his rookie season under his belt, Ritchie started to show the offensive potential that made him the 10th overall selection of the 2014 NHL Draft. His wrist shot was especially lethal, allowing him to extend his presence out from the front of the net.

Video: COL@ANA: Ritchie wires home go-ahead goal late in 3rd

In the playoffs, Ritchie raised his game to another level.

After serving the latter half of a two-game suspension, he made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 2 against the Calgary Flames. He'd score his first career playoff goal in Game 3, the first of many incredible comeback wins by the Ducks.

Video: ANA@CGY, Gm3: Ritchie tucks a rebound past Elliott

Ritchie would only score two goals through the first two series, saving his biggest performance for the Western Conference Final.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Ritchie rifles shot in off Rinne's mask

He scored twice in that series and made himself a physical force, wreaking havoc on the Nashville Predators.
Ritchie finished his first postseason with four goals in 15 games, finishing second on the team - and first among forwards - with 52 hits.

While his season ended with a literal thud, there's excitement building around Ritchie's progression. He adjusted well to his first full NHL season, surviving the peaks and valleys that challenge young forwards. His versatility offers Randy Carlyle options, and an improved shot could land him more power-play time. With an ever-present physical game, Ritchie needs to better toe the line on fair and foul hits.

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