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2024 NHL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT (VIDEO + GRADES): Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL

Ryder Ritchie
2024 NHL Draft Eligible
Position: RW, Shoots: R
H/W: 6’0”, 173lbs
Date of Birth: 2006-08-03

An opinion about the long-term upside of a prospect should never be determined based on statistical output alone, and Ryder Ritchie is a prime example as to why.

If you were to take a quick glance at the point totals produced by the Prince Albert Raiders winger you might think, upon first impression, that he's not a very dangerous or impactful player offensively. Conversely, if you were to watch a handful of his recent games you'd likely come away a little baffled as to why he hasn't found the score sheet more often this season. The real Ritchie is somewhere in the middle, and finding that exact sweet spot could turn out to be a big challenge for scouts between now and draft day.

Ritchie came into this season with a lot of wind under his sails. He burst onto the scene with a 20-goal, 55-point rookie campaign that saw him get chosen as the 2022-23 WHL Rookie Of The Year. He followed that up with a stellar showing at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, helping Canada win gold while logging first-line duties and forming a dynamic duo with Berkly Catton. While he has undeniably made progress in his transition from a freshman to a sophomore, the boost of momentum he received from the Hlinka fizzled out sooner than expected, and he now finds himself mired in a serious grind as his offensive output is lagging below expectations and his outgunned Raiders club fights uphill most matches.

The current struggles certainly aren't for a lack of effort, though. That's something that Ritchie always has in spades, and is arguably his strongest attribute. His dad, Byron, had a long, underdog professional career, and you can see that a lot of those hard-fought lessons and grinder mentality have been passed down to Ryder. Where the younger Ritchie differs from his father, though, relates to long-term upside. And despite what the stats might suggest, there's a lot of upside on display in his game.


Ritchie can really scoot when he's out on the ice, and the frequency with which he turns on the jets consistently makes him one of the most exciting players to watch in the games he plays in. His biggest strengths are his quick acceleration, minimal time needed to reach top speed, and his ability to weave and carve laterally. His first few steps are very good, and he can throw in tricky little stutter steps to create speed differentials. He also does a great job keeping his head up in motion, scanning for routes and using his eyes to mislead opponents into thinking he's moving one way before darting in a different direction.

His top speed could be a little better though, as it gets hampered by his stride length. He doesn't have a lot of power in his lower body either, and that can sometimes make it a little too easy to knock him off balance or off his feet altogether.


Here's a great example of how Ritchie can be so dangerous on the rush, albeit with a little extra space to move at four-on-four. He picks up the puck behind his own net and starts to accelerate, beating the first layer of coverage with a quick cut to the left before then utilizing his crossovers to shift all the way back to the right and around the last defender. Prince Albert entrusts Ritchie with a lot of their zone exits and entries, for obvious reasons.

Ritchie is elusive with his footwork, edges and weight shifts, and uses them well collectively to keep plays alive for his team in the offensive zone. It's common to see shifts like this out of him, where he's driving with the puck and spinning off pressure to open up space.

Watch how quickly he is able to turn on the jets and how well he pushes back the defenders on the entry. This burst came at the end of a shift, too.

Grade: 55


Ritchie is a little tricky to analyze as a shooter and a goal-scorer. He didn't pot 20 as a WHL rookie on a bad team through sheer luck, and he's on pace to marginally surpass that total this year. He's a high-volume shooter who does a very good job of creating lanes and openings for himself, which he is almost forced to do every game because there isn't much playmaking skill around him. But while his wrister is pretty accurate and he has some deception to his release, there's not a lot of power or velocity to his shots overall, and a lot of good looks fizzle into easy saves.

This is a great sequence from Ritchie, even though it doesn't result in a goal. First he narrowly misses after showing patience and waiting for the penalty killer's momentum to pull himself out of the way, and then on the next rush back up the ice he keeps the defenders pushed back with his charge and narrowly misses again from a difficult angle.

Despite Ritchie's superb attempt to signal a pass the goalie doesn't bite, but it's no matter: he tucks the puck under the crossbar with a shot that would be nearly impossible for any goalie to stop.

In this clip we see both the strengths and the weaknesses mentioned above. He's instrumental in driving the play up the ice, including a cheeky little deke in the neutral zone, but the shot attempt that he ends up generating flutters harmlessly wide.

Grade: 55


As seen in other clips already, Ritchie has a very quick pair of hands, and he certainly isn't afraid of using them to challenge opposing defenders. He's dangerous on the rush because he can beat guys one-on-one, and he's very good at playing keep-away with the puck under pressure. He shows regular flashes of playmaking prowess, but is definitely more of a shoot-first winger and sometimes his focus can get a little too negatively streamlined.

This is far from Ritchie's best work with the puck, but it is illustrative of what his strengths are. He starts off this shift by drawing two penalty killers to him with his puck skill before sliding a nice backhand pass over to a teammate. He also does a really nice job controlling the zone entry on the reset and then protecting the puck for a few more seconds to buy the rest of the powerplay unit more time to set up, though he does get caught telegraphing his pass too clearly, leading to a turnover.

Because Ritchie has a reputation for loving to drive play and shoot it can really play to his advantage when he opts to defer instead. This powerplay goal happens because the Regina penalty killers simply aren't expecting his pass from behind the goal line, and good on him for recognizing that possibility.

Excellent poise from him here, and a somewhat rare instance on him slowing things down when the situation calls for it. He usually prefers to stomp his foot on the gas pedal, and while it often works out for him, he'll generate more chances like this if he can add more unpredictability to his pace of attack.

Grade: 55


Overall, Ritchie is a very smart prospect, and shows signs of his NHL-caliber tutelage. It's the quickness of his thinking and decision-making that is the most impressive, as he tracks and reads and reacts at high speeds, calculating his next move and acting on it faster than most opponents at this level can asses theirs. He already shows an advanced understanding of how to play off-puck, anticipating the next actions of his opponents and knowing where and when to apply pressure. There are, however, issues right now with him trying to do too much, hanging onto the puck for too long, and being turnover prone. Some of that might be attributable to his current situation, as the Raiders don't have a ton of skill as a team right now and it's obvious that Ritchie's role involves him prioritizing play-driving more than others. It's entirely reasonable to think that these problems would be lessened if he could divvy up more of the heavy lifting.

This is a brilliant little play. He draws a whopping four Rebels players in toward him, yet instead of making a low-percentage attempt to cut through them or giving the puck away on a dump-in he calmly curls back and dishes the puck to a teammate that he knows has been left wide open.

Another smart play here by Ritchie, drawing some pressure toward him to open up space for a teammate who he then dishes the puck to.

Sure, this sequence ends with the puck getting advanced to the Kelowna net, but that's a baffling decision that he makes to keep the puck on his stick and skate directly into double coverage. He takes a big lump that could have been avoided while still maintaining the zone entry.

Grade: 55


As previously mentioned, Ritchie's compete level is excellent. His motor is among the best in this entire draft class, as he absolutely loves to churn his feet and apply pressure on the opposing team, both with and without the puck. Defenders always have to be careful trying to break the puck out when he's coming at them as a forechecker, because he's coming fast and has a sharp sense for how to steal it, whether that's by a quick stick lift or by intercepting a pass. While the compete part of this category is no concern, the physicality portion is. He's still pretty light and scrawny, and hasn't made much progress on that front this last season. He runs into trouble trying to fight through checks or get body position, and he gets knocked off his feet too often when he absorbs contact. He receives a lot more hits than he dishes out, and that sort of thing can lead to injury troubles if he's not careful or able to correct it.

This single shift shows almost everything mentioned in the paragraph above. That's a great effort by him in transition to gain the offensive zone and get the shot off, and he gets the puck back right after because he's still in the attack mentality and hasn't let up. While it's nice to see him try to play the body at the end even though he's probably out of gas by that point, it's an ineffective attempt and he ends up on the ice.

Ritchie doesn't do anything wrong here, per se, but you never want to see a forechecker who is trying to land a hit end up on the wrong side of it like this.

Why is being able to absorb body contact important? Because it's hard to maintain puck possession when you're lying on the ice, as we can see in this clip. Ritchie will need to find a way to either bounce off of these kinds of plays better, or frequently avoid them entirely.

Grade: 55

OFP: 55

A note on the 20-80 scale used above. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.