For many reading this article the last name Rychel may sound familiar. For some they may have no may have no idea. To clear up any confusion Windsor Spitfires left winger Kerby Rychel is the son of former NHL player Warren Rychel. The elder Rychel played nine seasons overall in the NHL with the Kings, Maple Leafs, Avalanche and Ducks respectively. While Warren was known throughout his NHL career as a grinder and a pest, Kerby has developed into a premier power forward prospect who registered back-to-back 40 goal seasons with the Spitfires.
Kerby was originally drafted by the Barrie Colts 21st overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft but he never suited up for the Colts. Rychel was dealt in August of 2010 to the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in exchange for 2nd round pick in 2011, a 2nd round pick in 2012 and a 3rd rounder in 2014. In 30 games with the Majors, Rychel had only 8 points. Spitfires GM and co-owner Warren Rychel made a series of trades to ensure that his son would be a member of his hometown team. Windsor traded second-round picks (originally from Mississauga) in the 2013, 2015 and 2016 OHL Priority Selections to the Mississauga St. Michaels for Rychel and second-round picks (originally from Windsor) in the 2015 and 2016 OHL Drafts. Rychel’s trade from Mississauga to Windsor was the best thing that has happened to him. Under the tutelage of head coach Bob Boughner, Rychel has flourished into a top 25 prospect for the 2013 NHL draft.
Kerby was born in Los Angeles, while his Dad was playing with the Kings, but he spent the majority of his life growing up in Tecumseh, Ontario. Rychel was a member of Team Ontario at the 2011 World under-17 Hockey Challenge, and for Team Canada at the 2012 under -18 World Championships. He won bronze medals at both events.
Kerby Rychel is a pure sniper in my opinion. He has a heavy accurate wrist shot which can fool goaltenders. His release rivals top prospect Nate MacKinnon. Rychel’s sweet spoton the ice is from the top of the circles, but he also has a knack for scoring close near the net. He has quick and soft hands, which allows him to tip in many shots and gobble up rebounds up front. Watching Rychel play it’s easy to see why he’s put up 81 goals over the last two seasons. What I like about Rychel is his hard working play in the corners and his relentless forecheck. If he’s able to do that at the pro level, he’ll find success in the NHL.
Rychel could improve on his skating. His top end speed is okay is pretty good, but his acceleration is pretty choppy. Rychel does have excellent power and agility working for him though.
Defensively, Rychel must improve his game. The best word to describe his play in his own end is erratic. Over the last two years, I’ve seen him play some real great games defensively by blocking shots, back checking, and being a physical force. The key for Rychel is to keeping his feet moving. When he does that he’s one of the top two-way forwards in the OHL. When he doesn’t move his feet he gets caught watching the puck. Bottom line is Rychel must improve defensively to make an NHL roster. Like his father,
Rychel is not afraid to drop the gloves and play a tough brand of hockey. I expect that he will improve his defensive game given he’s only 18 years of age.
Rychel has potential to be a top second line winger in the NHL with an outside possibility of cracking a first line. He’s a cross between Brad Marchand and Corey Perry. I stress to everyone that this is a comparison is terms to style not potential. In my updated mock draft I have Rychel going 19th overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jared Abbott has the pesky winger going to the Anaheim Ducks 26th overall. Jared also listed Rychel has his 19th overall top prospect for the upcoming draft. I listed the Windsor left winger as my 21st overall top prospect in the 2013 draft class.