Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
August 29 2013 01:03AM
Name: Greg McKegg
Position: Centre / Left Wing
Hometown: St. Thomas, Ontario (near London)
Size: 6'0, 185 lbs
2013 Team: Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Acquired: Drafted 62nd overall (3rd Round) in 2010 Entry Draft
Trying to get a feel for McKegg's potential has been a bit of a challenge since the day he was drafted. On one hand, the Leafs could have had a steal, picking up one of the most improved players in the OHL (18 points in 64 games in 2008/09 to 85 points in 67 games in 2009/10). On the other hand, it could have just been the case of a player going up the ranks and making the most of an opportunity handed to him. But everybody was prepared to see him through. After all, he appeared to have an uncanny ability to find ways to score, and at the worst case, the Leafs were down a mid-range draft pick.
Lets hit fast foward a bit.
He goes back to junior for the next season, and scores an impressive 49 goals and gets a career high 92 points. His year isn't a massive improvement on the previous one, but he shows that he isn't a fluke. He plays two games with the Marlies after his Erie Otters are eliminated, and scores a single goal. Heads back to Erie for one more run, and sees a dip in production, scoring 34 points in 35 games. You'd think there would be concern if a 19 year old prospect had a decline like this, but the team won just four of twenty five games in that stretch. In an attempt to scoop up draft picks and prepare for the Connor McDavid era, Erie traded McKegg to his close enough to hometown London Knights, where he put up 41 points in 30 games, and 11 in 15 playoff games.
This brings us to the start of last season. McKegg had nothing left that he could possibly do in the OHL, and he was now of age to play on an American Hockey League roster. As such, he took part in 61 of the Marlies 76 games scoring eight goals and adding fifteen assists in 23 games. A few things worth noting:
- McKegg was the most productive of the younger players making their debut with the team. Ignoring Jerry D'Amigo (who started the year at 21, but playing his third season with the Marlies), and Spencer Abbott (who was a rookie, but started the year as a 24 year old), McKegg lead the new group in games played and points. In fairness, Kenny Ryan (59GP, 9G 12A 21PTS), was the only significant competition.
- His season suffered a very slow start. Part of this was because he was adjusting to playing at the professional level, but there was also the added issue of being slammed down the depth chart by the lockout. The departure of the likes of Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri, and others lead to increased minutes, and even games played.
- The best stretch for Greg over the course of the season was during a late-season resurgence in early-mid March, scoring a goal and eight assists in a nine game stretch. This may be the only time after mid-February that the team was winning games by scoring goals, rather than screaming "SAVE US DREW MACINTYRE", and he was instrumental in making that happen.
- Consistency is a bit of an issue, going through goal droughts as long as 19 games this year,
|Team Games||Games Played||Goals||Assists||Points|
|1 to 10||10||2||2||4|
|11 to 20||5||0||0||0|
|21 to 30||6||2||1||3|
|31 to 40||7||1||0||1|
|41 to 50||8||1||0||1|
|51 to 60||9||1||8||9|
|61 to 70||10||0||0||0|
|71 to 76||6||1||1||2|
McKegg followed this up with three goals and three assists in the Calder Cup Playoffs, over a nine game span. That was further facilitated by more players making the jump to the Leafs as they needed extra depth for their playoff series, giving him even more ice time to work with.
Beyond statistical output, what we saw out of McKegg this year was very much what had been described, but to a lesser scale. His skating ability seemed neither impressive or a handicap. He wouldn't be the type that would throw the body at you for no particular reason, but he also wasn't one to get intimidated by others. The goals that he did score this year all came from his ability to find a way to get the puck at an unexpected time and shoot before anybody could react; a product of very good positional awareness.
It would be a stretch to say that McKegg was a key contributor to last years team. But this time around? There's going to be a very young core looking to prove themselves, and he's already a year ahead of many of them. As well, both Erie and London are in the same division as new Coach Steve Spott's former Kitchener Rangers were, so you'd have to imagine he's seen a lot of him and will be willing to throw significant minutes at him next season.
Do I see McKegg as a sleeper star player? Probably not. Guys who are going to be impact players in the NHL usually do better than a point in every three games in the minors, even as rookies. But crazier things have happened, and I feel like he'll at least be a good complimentary scorer. Definitely fitting of the #12 spot on our list (which is also the position I personally ranked him at). A solid work ethic and focus on increasing his skill set, combined with his vision and positioning could bring him a long way in possibly exceeding his expected potential. For now, I see him as a solid future addition to a team that operates under at top 9 / bottom three system, but who knows what the future may bring?
PREVIOUSLY ON TLN PROSPECTS...
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com