NHL Draft prospects: No. 25 Kerby Rychel

Windsor co-owner and general manager Warren Rychel cashed in his biggest assets by dealing son Kerby, pictured, and 19-year-old defender Nick Ebert to Guelph. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Intro: Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the NHL draft in New Jersey on June 30.

The 25th prospect in our countdown is the imposing power forward from the Windsor Spitfires, Kerby Rychel.

Stats: Windsor Spitfires (OHL) 68 GP | 40 G | 47 A | 87 P | -21 | 94 PIM

Who is Kerby Rychel?
Rychel is the son of former NHLer and current part-owner and general manager of the Windsor Spitfires, Warren Rychel. He reached the 40-goal plateau for the second straight season in the OHL after posting 41 as a sophomore a year ago. He captured a gold medal with Team Ontario at the 2011 under-17 world hockey championship and on Canada’s 2011 under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, and a bronze medal at the 2012 under-18 world championships.

Kerby Rychel’s scouting report:
Kerby Rychel plays a similar game to his father as an honest, hard-working player with a gritty demeanour. He’s often the first player to stand up for a teammate and will drop the gloves at a moment’s notice to change the complexion of a game. Rychel has a scorer’s touch and nose for the net. His chemistry with Boston Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev was noted when Khokhlachev returned mid-season to the OHL and Rychel’s offensive game spiked. His biggest downfall is his skating.

Teams who might be interested in Kerby Rychel:
Rychel may be an ideal fit for the Vancouver Canucks, who may covet his grit and goal scoring attributes. The Canucks could certainly use some more sandpaper up front and a forward who will drop the gloves to stand up for teammates or to turn the tides of momentum. There’s also some familiarity with Zack Kassian, whom Rychel played half a season with two years ago. His addition in the future would make the Canucks harder to play against, an aspect that bodes well for a tough Western Conference.

Scout’s take: “A strong, power forward,” describes David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “His skating regressed a little bit this year, but he did a good job of getting into the slot and taking advantage of his wrist, snap and slap shot. He played a lot better when Khokhlachev returned after the world juniors, as he finally had a playmaking centre that would do a lot of the work for him.

“I didn’t think he was as tenacious this year as he was in previous years. I thought that there were times he didn’t want to engage as much, but the one thing about him is that when he does want to get activated in the game, he can be pretty hard to play against. For me, he needed to bring that out on a more consistent basis. I thought sometimes he got some lazy points by just kind of hanging on the blue- line, last man leaving the zone and he got a lot of his points on the power play. He’s a bit more of an opportunist and didn’t want to skate so much when the puck was not in his general vicinity, but when he knew he could get to it, he would show a little more jump.”

“Rychel is a tremendous complementary player whose value could be compared similarly to that of Chris Kunitz,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “While he doesn’t create the most chances, he is exceptional at finishing them off and creating space for his teammates away from the puck. He has tremendous presence around the net, shows great compete and desire and loves to battle.”

Rankings: Rychel was ranked 17th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), 20th by International Scouting Services and 25th by McKeen’s Hockey.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.