In a draft filled with the sons of former NHLers, Kerby Rychel may be the most polished of the bunch.
Rychel has developed as a prolific scorer for the Windsor Spitfires playing for his father, Warren. The 2012-13 season marked the second consecutive year Rychel hit the 40 goal plateau in Windsor and his play earned him a place in the CHL Top Prospects Game. A year ago, after the 2011-12 OHL season, he helped Canada to a bronze medal at the World U18s, potting five goals and eight points in seven games.
What Rychel brings to the table is a traditional power forward game. He is a big, strong player at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, who can mix it up in the toughest areas of a rink. He possesses a big shot which makes him a dangerous finisher and opens up space for teammates as defenders look to close him down and prevent the blast on goal. Rychel also comes with good hockey sense and a competitive edge that rarely slips.
While his skating has made strides -- pardon the pun -- Rychel’s skating can be seen as a liability of sorts. When he gets up to speed he is fluid and much improved from years past, but the process to get up to speed can be awkward and laborious. His defensive game could also stand to improve as his play away from the puck can lead him to become passive in the overall flow of play.
Rychel projects as a solid two-way contributor at the next level with his ability to score and the physicality he brings around the ice. He may never round into a go-to scorer for a team, but he should develop into a solid secondary option who will contribute to a top six forward group. While his skating may hinder the final product he becomes, that shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a quality pro.
Expect Rychel off the board in the mid-to-late first round.
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