Saturday, February 25, 2012

Leafs Prospect Update: Greg McKegg

Every once in a while teams find a diamond in the rough at the draft. Players chosen beyond the first round sometimes can have a substantial NHL career. The Toronto Maple Leafs hope they have such a gem in Greg McKegg.

McKegg was selected by the Erie Otters in the ’08 Ontario Hockey League Priority Draft with the second overall pick. His first season was unspectacular, scoring 18 points in 64 games. The following season was a coming out for McKegg as he exploded for 85 points in 67 games. That breakout performance caught the attention of the Leafs and they drafted him in the third round of the 2010 NHL entry draft with the 62nd overall pick.

McKegg was returned to Erie where he led the team in scoring with 49 goals, 43 assists for a whopping 92 points in 66 games. His 49 goals were good enough for third in the OHL and tied him with Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting. Yakupov is this summer’s consensus number one ranked draft eligible prospect. Erie lost in the first round of the playoffs to the defending memorial Cup champions the Windsor Spitfires. The end of Erie’s season allowed McKegg to play two games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, marking his pro debut.

Following his two game audition with the Marlies McKegg hoped to make the jump to pro for the 2011-2012 season, but was returned to Erie to develop his game. I asked him what he was told he needed to work on to develop his game and he said “Just get bigger, stronger, and faster. I think to make the next level those are they key components I need to work on.”

This season in 35 games with Erie, McKegg had 34 points but was a minus -39 as Erie entered a complete rebuild and sit dead last in the OHL. As part of the Rebuild McKegg was traded to the London Knights who are the top team in the OHL and he has 29 points in 19 games with the Knights. He attributes a lot of his improved play to his new line mates saying, “It’s a big part of it. Erie is a young team and a little inexperienced. Here there is a great group of guys and we really play as a unit and put some pucks in the net.”
London has a deep roster full of highly skilled player such as leading scorer Seth Griffith, Vladislav Namestnikov, Austin Watson, Jared Knight, and rookie Max Domi. The Knights will be a strong contender in the playoffs as they have already clinched a berth and will have Memorial Cup aspirations as well.

Where does McKegg hope to be playing next season? “I hope to make the big club, but the Marlies is a great spot to develop. They have a great coach there in Dallas Eakins.”

McKegg is a highly skilled offensive player and can play either center or the wing. At 6’0”, 200 Lbs he has adequate size, and as he mentioned he needs to get stronger to make the jump to pro hockey and play against men. A long playoff run would show if McKegg has the strength to take his game to the next level and add valuable experience as well.

Time will tell if the Leafs struck gold with McKegg or not, but his stock is rising quickly!

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