Two wingers were taken by both the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft Friday night in Philadelphia, giving the southland two emerging young power forwards to watch for in the near future.
The Ducks chose forward Nick Ritchie out of the Ontario Hockey League with the 10th pick in the draft, using the selection they received in the trade of Bobby Ryan last year. Ritchie, a 6-foot-2, 226-pound left winger, led Peterborough in goals (39) and points (74) last season and once scored five goals in a game, doing so back in February.
Ritchie also has significant international experience and comes from a hockey family: His father, Paul, and brother, Brett, also played in the OHL. Brett is currently a prospect in the Dallas Stars system.
Pre-draft reports described him as having one of the best wrist shots in the draft class. He’s physical and brash, unafraid of any defenseman that stands in his way.
"Ritchie stands out in this draft class as a premier power forward," said Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden. "He brings size, skating, and skill. He is an impact player that makes opponents uncomfortable."
Ritchie made no secret of the fact that he expects to compete for a place on the active roster right away.
"I think I’m going to try to have a big summer, come to training camp and make that team," he told reporters on a conference call following his selection. "If you want to do something, you have to believe you can. I think I’m ready to do that, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make the team."
With the 29th overall pick, the Stanley Cup Champion Kings chose Swedish-born right winger Adrian Kempe. At just 17 years old, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound power forward is a young but enticing prospect. He was an assistant captain with MODO’s under-20 team before joining the club’s senior team in the Swedish Hockey League. In 45 games with the senior team, he posted 45 points and also skated alongside his older brother Mario, a 2007 Philadelphia Flyers draft pick.
With the Kings, Kempe will have an opportunity to play alongside his favorite player, Marian Gaborik.
"He’s a big, strong, bullish forward who can play center or wing." said Kings director of European scouting, Goran Stubb. "He likes to drive hard for the net, using his strength and skating to his advantage. He plays the body and is aggressive when forechecking. He has a good defensive game for a player with his offensive skills; mobile, solid and strong.
"He’s a power forward, strong along the boards with smooth hands and is a very speedy skater. He’s a solid two-way forward."