February 23, 2014
TORONTO- Greg McKegg is starting to turn heads in his sophomore season in the AHL.
The 21-year-old centre, who has logged major minutes for Steve Spott’s Toronto Marlies recently, scored two goals on Sunday in a 4-1 win against the Oklahoma City Barons. It was his second two-goal performance in his last five outings.
“He’s now turning himself into a legitimate NHL prospect and I’m sure there’s a number of teams, not only the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the 29 other teams that are seeing that as well,” said Spott.
McKegg has played top-six all season with the Marlies because he is pegged by Leaf management as a potential contributor offensively at the NHL level. His season, however, didn’t start strong and it wasn’t until the calender year changed over that his production started to pick up.
Since January, the St. Thomas, Ont. native has produced seven goals and 19 points in 17 games for the Marlies, with one call up to the Leafs in the process.
“It’s great to see the confidence that he’s playing with,” said Spott.
In 42 games the 62nd overall pick from the 2010 NHL draft has 13 goals and 35 points.
The Marlies lineup got a much-needed boost down the middle Sunday as Peter Holland joined the club after being sent down Saturday by the Leafs.
While Holland didn’t score—although he came close as a Barons defender cleared away a rolling puck that was on its way in after Holland beat goaltender Richard Bachman—he did produce five shots on net and solidified a 1-2 combo with McKegg at centre.
Despite being out of game action for almost a month with an injured foot prior to his demotion, the 23-year-old didn’t show any signs of rust.
“A good effort by him,” said Spott. “He hasn’t played hockey in a long time. He’s been off for quite some time with the break. He’ll only get better as we go.
“He’s so dynamic. The challenge we have now is do you play him with (Brandon) Kozun, (Josh) Leivo, (Spencer) Abbott, so we’ll have to make some decisions as we go forward. He’s a puck possession guy, he likes to move the puck and he’s just so dynamic through the neutral zone.”
Kenny Ryan was back in the line up Sunday after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch and chipped in with three big assists, including two in just over a minute as the Marlies erased a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead.
Prior to his three-point outing, the 22-year-old had gone 14 games without a point.
“Kenny’s one of those guys that can be an unsung hero,” said Spott. “He kills penalties, he plays against other team’s top lines and he brings us that speed and energy that you need on the depth of your lineup.”
Ryan entered the AHL as a winger. Because of injuries and a lack of depth at centre, however, Spott has been using Ryan as a bottom-six centreman when needed.
The Michigan native has two goals and eight points in 27 games this season.
The Marlies next game is Feb. 26 when they host the Binghamton Seantors.