The other Ritchie brother has signed a PTO of his own. Relatively shortly after Brett Ritchie reportedly signed a PTO with the Florida Panthers, his brother Nick Ritchie has had a PTO agreement announced with the St. Louis Blues.
This is actually the second consecutive time the Ritchie brothers have seen their names appear next to each other on the transactions wire. Earlier this year, the brothers were traded for each other, with Nick and defenseman Troy Stecher headed to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Brett and Connor Mackey, who went to the Arizona Coyotes.
Ritchie isn’t coming off of a great season, which could be why he’s had to settle for a PTO rather than a full contract. He scored a total of 13 goals and 26 points last season, just three points more than he scored in 2021-22 despite playing in 17 additional contests. The six-foot-three, 236-pound former top prospect has scored at around the same rate (goals in the early teens, points in the mid-twenties) for much of his NHL career.
It was an intriguing combination of size and scoring ability that made Ritchie such a highly-touted prospect and is what got him selected 10th overall by the Anaheim Ducks at the 2014 draft. He hasn’t been able to translate his quality scoring numbers in both junior hockey and his brief stay in the AHL to the NHL, though.
The lack of time and space afforded in the NHL has been a particular issue for Ritchie, who lacks the sort of separation speed, deceptive puck skills, or overwhelming puck protection talents to create time and space for himself. As a result, he’s settled into more of a bottom-six role while offering a little bit more offensive touch than the average fourth-liner.
Arriving in St. Louis for camp, Ritchie does have something of a shot to make their NHL roster and earn a full contract. He’s competing with players such as Oskar Sundqvist, Samuel Blais, Mackenzie MacEachern, Alexey Toropchenko, Nathan Walker, and Nikita Alexandrov for a depth role on head coach Craig Berube’s roster.
With a strong camp and preseason, he could end up having a longer stay in St. Louis. But without the guarantee of a full contract to play somewhere this season, Ritchie has an extremely important month ahead of him.