Sunday, March 17, 2019

Kerby Rychel: Two Autographed Cards

I wrote about a prospect who is currently in his fourth NHL franchise yesterday in Anthony Duclair; Kerby Rychel is in the same boat, now playing for the Calgary Flames' AHL affiliate the Stockton Heat, after stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montréal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets organizations.

Unlike Duclair, skating is an area where NHL GMs and coaches are always telling Rychel to improve; his strongest suits are his grit, taste for playing in traffic areas (including in front of the opposition's net), tipping pucks, and traits generally associated with "plug-type" players and bottom-sixers, not first-rounders.

Still, it's not his fault the Blue Jackets selected him 19th overall in 2013, ahead of Anthony Mantha (20th, already 200 games and 60 goals in an NHL career), Andre Burakovsky (23rd, 318 NHL games, 61 goals), Shea Theodore (26th), Ryan Hartman (30th), Robert Hagg (41st), Artturi Lehkonen (55th, 200+ games), Brett Pesce (66th, 278 games and counting), Pavel Buchnevich (75th), Jake Guentzel (77th, closing in on 200 games and a goal shy of 75), Mattias Janmark-Nylen (79th, 224 games, 40 career goals), Duclair (80th, 277 games, over 50 goals), Sven Andrighetto (86th, 205 games, 50 assists), Oliver Bjorkstrand (89th, 187 games), Miles Wood (100th, 193 games), Andrew Copp (104th, 282 games), and Tyler Motte (121st, closing in on 150 games played).

I've heard and read about a lack of compete and work ethic in his case, but surely there was a way to instill those traits in him via positive reinforcement and reward for what he did do well, and accentuating or encouraging a will to become a Dave Andreychuck/Ray Sheppard/Brad Marchand type of "garbage goal" scorer and powerplay menace, and expanding from there.

All's not lost for him yet, at just 24 years of age, and he does have 23 goals in 57 AHL games this season, so surely an NHL team might take a chance on him in the near future, it's just been a rockier path than some expected.

For my part, I always say power forwards need more time to develop, and although he's a little small for one, that's how he plays; he also never reached the 100-point mark in Juniors, so he was always going to have to learn to work hard to deserve his chances.

Speaking of which, here's a card from his OHL days with the Windsor Spitfires:
It's card #T-45 from In The Game's 2013-14 Heroes And Prospects 10th Anniversary set and shows him wearing the Spitfires' white (home) uniform.

There is also card #88 from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Team Canada Juniors/Women set, where he's seen protecting the puck from a Swiss player while wearing Team Canada's red (away) uniform:
He was held pointless in 7 games at the 2014 World Juniors, as Canada finished in fourth place.

He signed both in (fading) black sharpie while playing for the AHL's Toronto Marlies (2016-18).

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