Though we now know that the first overall pick will go to the New York Rangers, we are still a long way from knowing the final order of the 2020 NHL Entry draft. One person who is hoping to hear his name called in the later half of the first round is Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat King.
Over the past two seasons, Greig has worked his way up the lineup in Brandon from the 4C position, to become a mainstay in the team’s top-6. He plays in all situations and moving forward will be counted on to lead a very young but talented Brandon squad over the during his remaining time in the WHL.
Drafted 8th overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, he has lived up to expectation as a high draft pick. Coming in with the pedigree of winning, he has picked up championships at the bantam and midget AAA levels and a silver medal at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament with Team Canada, where he netted two goals and one assist in five games. He is also 1 of 40 odd players that have been invited to U-20 Team Canada summer development camp.
In his first full WHL season, Greig scored 14 goals and 21 assists in 63 games. This past season, he was third in total points for the Wheat Kings with 60 points in 56 games. He was only two points behind 2019 Avalanche draft pick (6th rd, 171st) Luka Burzan. Greig led Brandon with 9 goals and 26 points on the power play, as well as netting 2 shorthanded goals.
Greig has developed nicely in his two seasons in the WHL as shown above in the model created by Byron Bader at Hockey Prospecting. With a draft year production comparable to that of Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators and Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens, Greig is on the right path to becoming a regualr NHLer.
With all but one of his goals coming in between the face off dots and 75% of shots in the high danger area, he’s shown that he knows how to get the puck in the areas with the highest probability to score.
First thing you notice about Greig is that he is a quick, hard working and physical player who makes life difficult for opposing playing in all three zones. He’s not afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice to retrieve pucks or delivering big hits along the boards.
Greig is a very good transitional centre/wing and can play each position at an above average level. He understands how to make plays in the middle in the defensive zone and he also wins one on one puck battles along the boards in the offensive zone - giving him the ability to set up plays once he has possession of the puck. In the neutral zone he passes off the puck in transition at relatively high speeds which will translate well into the NHL.
Greig is a very solid skater with an explosive first two steps which can get him to his high speed very quickly. While his top speed is not elite, he is quick moving laterally. Once he gains strength and physical maturity, I believe that top speed will become a real asset for him at the pro level.
His vision and hockey IQ are both significant strengths. In the video above you can see him coming into the offensive zone, slow down, pushing the defenseman back opening up a passing lane and he threads the puck to Braden Schneider who gets a nice shot off. Using the area created via his speed change entering the offensive zone, should translate very well into the NHL level.
Greig was also tasked this year by being the top power play center while also playing on one of the better penalty kill units in the WHL. The Brandon Wheat Kings played a 1-3 PK system with Greig on the ice, using him as the main forechecker in the offensive zone and as the player who defends in the slot in defensive zone.
Where can he improve
One area of improvement is in his shot. First, he needs to shoot more. When he is along the boards he tends to pass the puck off as opposed to skating in and taking a shot. While all of his goals are in the high danger area he has opted to pass the puck off as opposed to using a perimeter shot to create a rebound or scoring opportunity down deep where his teammates often are waiting.
While he scores a nice goal above, adding some strength and rotation to his body to strengthen that snap. As he gains strength in his core and arm areas he will be able to load up his shot to make it heavier and quicker. As shown above his fundamentals are fairly good but he will need to refine them a little bit to get his shot to the next level. It is already very accurate and with his quick hands down low adding an element of speed to his shot will help him beat NHL level goaltenders.
While he is a very physical player and not afraid to rough it up he also needs to understand where the line is. He crossed it multiple times this year and was suspended because of it.
What are others saying about him
“Greig is an on the edge wing/centreman with great stick-handling, high-end skating and compete levels. He’s a pass-first player who thinks ahead of the game and makes smart decisions over 200-foot. Greig loves to get physical with opposing players and isn’t afraid to up the tempo in terms of intensity when needed. Fantastic neutral zone player who displays a solid defensive stick and loves to jump passes with contact to see puck separation.” – Ashley Glover, Dobber Prospects, co-host of Painting Prospect podcast
“Pain in the a** player who plays a quick, confident, skilled game and a hard worker. You hate playing him love to have him” – WHL GM
If the Avalanche drafted him, what’s his path to the NHL
Greig is likely to be available when the Avalanche make their selection near the end of the first round of the draft. The team would set up a strength and conditioning program for him that would emphasize leg quickness and core/rotational strength. This will increase that top speed and continue to add speed to the explosive first step. As a smaller guy, being harder to knock off the puck combine for a lower center of gravity will increase his odds of sticking in an NHL lineup.
Whoever drafts him, will likely send the youngster back to junior with a list of skills to work on - first and foremost, learning to be a little more selfish with his shot.
Greig might not become a top-6 guy on the Avalanche any time soon, but being a key cog in a bottom-6 role is something that is very plausible. He is a player who plays a 6’4 man’s games while being only 5’11. The Avalanche were going to draft Brady Tkachuk at 4th before Ottawa kept the pick, Greig might end up being that player to some degree for the Avalanche if he is there very late into the first round.