The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is quickly approaching, and, thus far, the Flames' first pick will be in the third round, 64th overall. I've decided to profile a few players whom the Flames could potentially select come June 25th-26th. Today's player is Erie forward Greg McKegg. Ranked 66th by Central Scouting in their final rankings, he moved up a full 28 spots from his mid-term ranking of 94th overall.
Junior Team: Erie Otters
One of the youngest players eligible for this year's NHL entry draft, McKegg turns eighteen on June 17th, and has played just two seasons of junior hockey with the Erie Otters. McKegg scored 37 goals and 85 points in 67 games this past season, including 16 powerplay goals and 29 PP points and 5 SH points, and played in the OHL All-Star Game as the injured Greg Nemisz's replacement. After struggling in his first season to the tune of 8-10-18 in 64 games and having his ice time limited to "three or four shifts a game," McKegg credits an increase in confidence and chemistry with his older linemates Zack Torquato (31-62-93, +21) and Mike Cazzola (36-50-86, +22) for his improved play, despite suffering a knee injury in training camp that hampered his skating all season. McKegg works with skating coach Dwayne Blais in the off-season, and hopes to get his skating ability back to where it was during training camp before his injury in time for next season.
McKegg's biggest weakness, according to reports from his agent John Thornton, is his play away from the puck. His +/- improved from a ghastly -13 in 2008-09 to +18 this past season, but it's unknown how much of that can be attributed to a conscious effort on his part to improve his defensive game, more favourable circumstances, or the play of his linemates, who were a combined +43 this past season. McKegg's stats don't appear to be skewed too heavily by the strength of his team. The Otters were, collectively, -2 this past season, despite having six twenty-plus goal scorers on their roster, allowing 259 goals and scoring 257 en route to 73 points and an eighth-place finish in the OHL's Western Conference before being ousted by the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Spitfires in the first round of the playoffs, where McKegg scored two goals and three points in four games and was -4. McKegg likes to shoot from the high slot, and his biggest strength, according to himself in an interview with Hockey's Future, is his shot; Since there is no shot or shooting percentage data for OHL players, it's difficult to tell if McKegg's offensive outburst was the result of an unsustainably high SH%, high shot volume, or if he was indeed actively putting himself in a position to score and simply progressing as a player.
The Flames already have an abundance of defensive prospects and forwards whose calling is that of a bottom-six grinder/defensive specialist in their system, and drafting a more skilled, versatile goal-scorer is likely amongst their priorities for this year's entry draft. With their first pick being in the third round, however, it goes without saying that the organization will select the best player available to them at the time.