In my feature on Greg McKegg for Hockey's Future, I called him an underdog in the teaser. A reader asked why I used that term. He has good stats, how could he be an underdog?
Let me tell you how. Erie is one of three OHL teams that are on the American side of the border. Most NHL scouts live on the Canadian side. Right off the bat these teams gets scouted less. Are there still scouts at their home games? Yes, but only a few.
Second, Erie had some ownership, management and coaching issues in the recent past that soured a lot of people on the franchise. Former NHL coach Robbie Ftorek has been there for two and a half years now, and seems to really be whipping the team into shape. But the poor reputation is hard to shake.
These things lead to Erie's players being underrated. Happened last year with Ryan O'Reilly. You could also possibly include Jaroslav Janus in there, as he is now doing quite well as a 20-year-old in the AHL.
What about Andrew Yogan, you might ask. He's rated fairly high for the 2010 draft. Yes, he is, but he has been on scouts' radars for the 2010 draft for several years, long before he went to Erie in a trade last season. Yogan was the best player in the State of Florida and was going to go play in the USHL, when scouts intervened and steered him to the OHL. He ended up in Windsor, one of the rich teams, which wasn't a coincidence. But he disappointed there. He's got an NHL body and skates pretty well, so he'll probably go in the first three rounds just due to having the tools, but in my opinion he's a long shot to make it. He doesn't seem to have the desire. He seems to play like the game should just come to him.
McKegg on the other hand, hasn't had it easy. He sure is the apple of Ftorek's eye though. I went to Ftorek's post-game "press conference" (all three of us), and was a little nervous about asking him questions, knowing his penchant for yelling at people. But as soon as I said McKegg's name, his emotions changed, almost like a dad talking about his son. It's a high compliment when Ftorek likes you, so that speaks very well of McKegg. He seemed like a nice kid to me too, though he talks a little too fast for my taste. Makes it hard to transcribe.
Next year, for the 2011 draft, Erie will have David Broll. To me, he looks like he should be at least top 100. But I haven't seen anyone talking about him yet. What a surprise, given the team he plays on.