Social media is a perfect little universe for those who like to rush to judgement. At the NHL’s 2020 Draft, there were no shortage of “experts” or “fans” who thought the Ottawa Senators had made a mess of their picks that year. The Sens had three selections in the first round and chose Tim Stutzle 3rd overall, Jake Sanderson 5th and Ridly Greig 28th.
Stutzle was a no-brainer at number three. Eyebrows were raised a little when Sanderson was chosen a little earlier than expected, simply because most felt Jamie Drysdale was the superior defenceman. And the armchair experts really thought Greig was a reach. You can still review social media posts from draft night two years ago and find hot takes from self-proclaimed experts actually mocking the pick.
The full story of the 2020 NHL Draft isn’t over – far from it. But the Sens picks keep looking better by the day. There’s a good chance they punctured the bullseye with all three of their 2020 first-round draft darts. If you re-drafted today, all three might be selected earlier than they were. And in Greig’s case, way earlier.
Yes, it’s a little weird to suggest a hockey player’s stock is doing anything in the middle of August, let alone skyrocketing, but that’s exactly what’s happened for Greig over the past few days. .
Greig had an outstanding year in Brandon of the Western Hockey League with 63 points in 39 games. But at the lightly-attended, summertime version of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton, former Sens head coach Dave Cameron – now head coach of the 67s and Team Canada – assigned Greig a third line role, leaning on him to be a good two-way centreman. Greig has been exactly that, killing penalties, sacrificing his body to block shots, being extremely physical and never quitting on anything. But he’s racking up the points anyway. Through four games, Greig has six points, including one on this ridiculous one-handed effort against Latvia last week.
At the draft, Greig’s biggest fans made Brad Marchand comparisons, which seemed a little off at the time. But the more you watch him, the more you see it. He’s got that hockey engine that never stops, and there’s a mean streak he’s not shy about.
“Whenever I get a chance to maybe lay somebody out, I look forward to it,” Greig told TSN when asked about his physical game.
When it comes to blocking shots, Greig is all about it. He threw his body in front of two in one sequence while killing a 5 on 3 in the win Monday over Finland.
“Yeah, I’m a little banged up but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?” Grieg told the media Monday. “Whatever it takes to win, to do anything for the boys, or kind of get some momentum…if it’s standing in front of a slapshot, I’m going to do it.”
The hype machine for Greig is running full blast in Ottawa right now and may force the Senators to take a far more serious look at him at camp this fall. It’s not as though he was invisible in last fall’s main camp. In an exhibition game against Winnipeg, Greig scored a highlight reel goal in the first period, then got ejected in the second for catching Pierre-Luc Dubois in the face with a crosscheck, letting Dubois know that he wasn’t particularly fond of his apparent plan to try and run him over. That’s Greig in a nutshell right there.
The Senators’ top six is completely set right now, loaded with excellent forwards. If Greig is projected to be a top six forward one day, and that now seems like a strong possibility, perhaps the best place for him to play is Belleville, where he can get the power play time, the big minutes and dominate there like Josh Norris did a couple of years ago
But if Greig can put up points with fewer minutes in a third line capacity, as he is for Team Canada, maybe the Sens almost have to take a look at him in that role right now. Shane Pinto, Alex Formenton and Mathieu Joseph are all very good players, and their third line roles in Ottawa are theirs to lose to fall. But they’d better come to camp ready to battle.
You can bet Ridly Greig will.
By Steve Warne | Sens Nation Hockey