clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Ridly Greig is seen as a high-floor prospect

New, comments

The question is how likely he is to reach the ceiling expected for a projected first-rounder.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

One issue NHL scouts face in compiling draft lists is trying to project the talents of prospects to a long professional career. Many young players clearly have the skill needed to become stars, but lack the work ethic to maximize it. Because there have been many promising players who couldn’t hang with the professionals, prospects who show a high level of engagement are regarded as lower risk, and see their stocks rise.

Ridly Greig is one of those players.

Birthplace: Lethbridge, Alberta
Date of birth: August 8, 2002
Shoots: Left
Position: Left-Winger
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 159 lbs.
Draft-Year Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

When he’s on the ice, Greig is always moving. He closes on his man in the defensive zone, tries to carry the puck over either blue line, and works his way to the middle of the offensive zone at every opportunity. They’re energetic minutes, and that constant motion results in a lot of drawn penalties for his team.

It’s a good thing, then, that he was such an effective player on the man advantage. Twenty-six of his 60 points were scored on the power play last season, including nine of his 26 goals.

Elite Prospects

It may be that when the play comes mostly to a halt on the man advantage that he can make the best use of his skill set. He’s not an explosive skater and even his top speed doesn’t beat many players at the Junior level. That all gets neutralized with defenders posting up in lanes to prevent a goal, and Greig is very good at exploiting that situation.

He’s a skillful puck-handler, able to outclass an opponent in a man-on-man situation to gain an extra step, change his shooting angle, and get a good shot off. He also has good vision of the passing options available in front of him, and a deceptive look-off or threat to puck-handle around a defender allows him to surprise teams with cross-ce passes.

When looking at highlight videos, I believe it’s just as important to look for the types of goals that aren’t being scored as much as it is to watch for offensive skills. The majority of the scoring plays you see are from quick turnovers for odd-man rushes or his mostly stationary man-advantage play. Little of his offence results from the hard-working, relentless style of play scouts are most impressed with, and that raises some significant concerns.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #84
Future Considerations: #54
Hockey Prospect: #14
McKeen’s Hockey: #24
McKenzie/TSN: #24
NHL Central Scouting: #14 (North American skaters)

His relentlessness only knows one gear, and that’s flat-out. It would be a more effective strategy for him if he were faster than the average WHL player, but that’s not the case. He can easily be caught on the ice, so even if his work generates a turnover, the opposition is able to recover.

The constant motion in the defensive zone can just as accurately be called “puck-chasing.” That desire to win the puck back at all costs is not efficient, and with his skating limitations he can get beaten in one-on-one situations. When it does work, and he comes out of the corner with the puck, or whacks it away from a player in the slot to create a transition, it looks great, but as you can see in his microstats from 13 tracked games below, his success rate is very low.

Mitch Brown’s Tracking Project

That tends to apply in a general fashion to his entire body of five-on-five play, no matter the zone. Sprinting head-first into every situation makes him stand out from his peers, but rarely results in anything meaningful.

Seventy-eight percent of the players tracked by Mitch Brown were better at coming away with the puck in the defensive end despite Greig’s best efforts. He repeatedly tried to barrel his way out of his zone or into the offensive zone, much more often than his teammates did (as shown in the entry/exit relative percentages), but was around the bottom quarter of the class at actually completing those transitions.

He’s overly confident in his one-on-one abilities, and tries to dangle his way not just into the offensive zone, with middling success, but then around one or two more players should he do so. Without speed to go with those hands, and leaving the puck exposed directly in front him while he’s handling it, he has enough difficulty getting around one player in the normal run of play, let alone several of them. Again, you will notice that there are next to no goals on his highlight reel that feature him dangling his way through mutliple layers of defence, even though it was one of his most attempted plays.

Because his main strategy was so ineffective, he didn’t have many shots at five-on-five, nor was he able to set many of them up. When he is in the zone and able to make an offensive play, his expected numbers are quite strong, disproportionate to his chance-generation numbers. He obviously has the skills to be a good offensive player, but is sabotaging his own efforts to be one.

He will need to realize than he’s not as tricky with his hands as he believes he is, which is something many skilled players struggle with; Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin still haven’t figured out that aspect of their games eight and seven years, respectively, from their draft seasons, constantly crashing against a defensive wall like Greig is doing in the WHL.

His game would benefit from working smarter rather than harder, but that will be a difficult habit to break. Unlike his puck-handling, which gets self-reinforced on the odd occasion he makes a defender look silly, the plaudits for his work ethic will come from outside sources. The team that selects him in the draft could very well be the one most enamoured with his perpetual motion, and therefore the least likely to work on that aspect.

There’s some quality skill to work with in Ridly Greig’s case, so he could become a good offensive player in the NHL. But there’s also a good chance that a lack of direction in his development keeps those abilities buried under some weaknesses in his game that get misconstrued as strengths.