The Erie Otters thought very highly of Greg McKegg when they selected him second overall in the 2008 OHL draft. In his first season as a 16-year-old, Greg played regularly appearing in 64 games and picking up 18 points during his rookie campaign with the last place Otters. In the 2009-10 season, Greg would play a much bigger role with the club that saw players like Ryan O’Reilly leave the club to be replaced by young future superstar David Broll. McKegg stepped into his role in a big way scoring 37 goals with 85 points in his second OHL season. The team also took a step forward making the playoffs with a 33-28-5 record making the most of improved goaltending. Greg would have a big summer in 2010, being selected in the very beginning of the third round with the Toronto Maple Leafs (62nd overall), two spots ahead of notable forward Max Reinhart. Greg would immediately show his potential to the organization, leading the Otters with 92 points and 49 goals. He would immediately be rewarded, playing his first two games of professional hockey with the Toronto Marlies after his team’s season was over. The next OHL season, McKegg would manage 34 points while earning a staggering -39 plus/minus rating in his 35 games with the dead-last Otters before being traded to the contending London Knights. Erie finished with only 10 wins that season. This, believe it or not, is not the worst ever finish for an OHL team (I checked). Unsurprisingly, Greg would increase his production with the Knights, scoring 41 points in 30 games with an additional 11 in a 15-game playoff run that would end in a defeat in the Memorial Cup championship game. In the 2012-13 season, Greg played his first full season of pro hockey, picking up 23 points on 68 shots during his 61 games with the Marlies. So far this season he has already surpassed that total, scoring 26 points in just 35 games with the Marlies. He played his first NHL game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Greg is a plus offensive player, capable of generating offense through his intelligence and puck skills. He is good with the puck down low, able to protect it from opposition and make a play when one opens up. Not necessarily physically impressive, Greg simply found a way to score with his head in junior, and has started to show his ability to do so at the AHL level. Greg’s biggest weakness is his physicality and skating ability. At an even 6-foot and 191 pounds, McKegg isn’t tiny for professional hockey but is by his own admission looking to get stronger and learning to throw his weight around more. Not an outstanding skater, Greg makes good use of his speed with his intelligence picking the right moments to rush the puck. His skating has improved significantly since entering pro hockey.
If Greg is able to continue to improve his foot speed and increase his physicality in the way coach Randy Carlyle asks, he is likely to find himself in a bottom-six scoring position. The Maple Leafs need depth scoring and I truly believe Greg McKegg is the man to bring it to them as early as now. This is the first in a weekly series where I’ll be looking at players in the Maple Leafs pipeline who may come into a prominent role in the near or distant future. I’m likely to play it by ear but if you have a player that interests you feel free to shoot me an email or Twitter message and I’ll take a look and strongly consider writing about them.