For all of the deserved flack the previous ownership of the Dallas Stars gets for swinging and missing in the 1st round of the NHL draft, their success in the later rounds kind of brings everything into balance. Brett Ritchie, taken 44th overall in 2011, is making his return to the lineup after a few roster moves stapled him to the AHL bench.
Ritchie has always been penciled into Dallas' future. But as Jim Nill likes to say, rather than pick the fruit from the tree, he likes to let the fruit drop first. And then pick them up off the ground.
Ritchie played 31 games for Dallas last year. He finished with 6 goals, and 3 assists. There are a lot of positives to take away from his brief time in Dallas.
If you don't remember his first goal, it came against Devin Dubnyk. And it happened because he spammed the dragon punch on Mikkel Boedker.
This is in the input to Corsi's output; smashing your way through players with half circle A/B/RB type wizardry with the mitts.
Like "defensive defensemen", the modern NHL hasn't treated the power forward kindly, but Ritchie fits in just fine. For those interested in regular shot stats, Ritchie proved to be quite useful during his brief tenure.
In the 2014-2015 season, Ritchie's shots for and against when he was on the ice (noting once again how useful it is to eliminate "shot attempt" from your vocabulary when it comes to Corsi) was 55.7 Percent, which was good for best among all skaters with at least 300 minutes of ice time.
He did it logging most of his ice time with Shawn Horcoff (171 + minutes) and Curtis McKenzie (143 +). His time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin was shortlived, logging minutes with them at 87 and 67 minutes, respectively.
He was "sheltered", but no more than Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.
Per War on Ice, with 34 individual high danger scoring area chances, that's good for at least one per game.
Despite his reputation as a sniper, he's settled into the role of playmaker now that Jason Dickinson, Ritchie, and Curtis McKenzie are an AHL line in Texas. And he's at least one reason as to why Dickinson has really picked it up as of late. He's 3rd on the team in shots on goal despite playing over 20 games less than the current shot leaders in Brendan Ranford, and Julius Honka.
Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see where he fits into the current lineup. Jason Spezza seems like the most likely candidate if Ritchie makes a quick impression on Ruff. Spezza has spent most of his time with the Cookie Crisp crowd, as both Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin are the forwards Spezza has spent most of his time with. Ruff likely prefers his playmaking skills, seeing if Spezza can unlock their offensive potential.
In addition, Ritchie isn't Sonic the Sledgehog. I think players like Seguin and Benn are so rush oriented, it might help explain why Ritchie seemed to be more at home with the 'bridge and trunnel' crowd. An efficient offensive zone rush isn't just about speed, which is why I like the idea of Ritchie getting time with Spezza. But if he can somehow grow into his own with Benn and Seguin, I wouldn't exactly complain. Especially if he shows Nichushkin how to throw the body around while he's at it.*
Ritchie has drawn praise from people like Corey Pronman, so no pressure Mr. Ritchie. But the entire 2015-2016 season is counting on your contributions to this team's depth scoring. Just kidding. But that would help.
*I'm no longer joking or trying to be "cute" with the Mystery Alaska references. Somebody please give Nuke the "Tree" treatment ASAP. If he wanted to, I really feel like he could have reverse Kronwalled Kronwall the other night.