Tag Archives: Greg McKegg

COLUMN: Things Are Beginning To Click

The Penguins took down the Islanders on Thursday evening and what a big win it was. They gave the Islanders a point, something that doesn’t look good now but will be meaningless in the long run if things continue the way they are.

The guys are clicking right now. Even despite the loss of Justin Schultz to a lower body injury, they were able to scratch out the 4-3 overtime win and pretty much dominated the game statistically.

I’m just going to provide some bullet points and you can stop me when I’m wrong.

-The special teams was a perfect 100% on Thursday. The Penguins were able to eek out two power play goals, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel being the culprits. The Penalty Kill, on the other hand, was sensational. “I thought our penalty kill was great tonight,” Sullivan said. They truly were. It seemed they had more of a willingness to block shots and Tristan Jarry did a good job stopping the shots that did get through to him.

-Both Guentzel and Kessel are absolutely killing it in terms of scoring. Guentzel scored his 13th tonight ad is on pace for 36 goals. Will he get there? We’ll see. I think he reaches 30 on the year and no one is going to complain about that. Kessel is playing some of the best all-around hockey of his career. I predicted at the beginning of the season that he would have 80 points this year. He’s got 14 goals and 35 points in 30 games. At this pace, he’ll hit 80.

-Did the Penguins really lose their starting goaltender? You wouldn’t know it if you are just tuning into the Penguins season. Jarry has been sensational in the absence of Matt Murray and has done everything you could ask and more. The Penguins were worried about Jarry’s development if he was riding the bench in Pittsburgh but he has been great in injury relief. 5-1-0 with a 2.39 GAA and a .921 SV%? I will sign up for those numbers every time.

Matt Hunwick was the most unlikeliest of heroes in this game. In 3-on-3 overtime, anything can happen. After being stoned by Jaroslav Halak just seconds before potting the game winner, Hunwick had been playing in overtime mainly due to the Schultz injury. He’s never had more than six goals in a season in his career. It’s unlikely he will reach that this season. But Hunwick isn’t as bad as some of the fans portray him. He’s been solid, he just isn’t flashy.

That’s only a few points that can be made. Sidney Crosby is back on top of his game. Patric Hornqvist has been a menace all year long. The list goes on and on.

The team did lose Tom Kuhnhackl for the final period due to injury. They are already thin in the bottom-six and it looks like Greg McKegg will be back in Pittsburgh if Kuhnhackl misses any time. They did give a point to the Islanders which now means that spots 1-5 in the Metropolitan are separated by one point. But if that’s the worst news to come out of the game to, can you be mad?

Jarry shut down one of the youngest and hottest teams in hockey right now for 55 minutes. He had a little blip late in the game but kept it together enough to send it to overtime. That’s the maturity of a veteran goaltender. He’s making huge saves and helping win games before he’s even had 10 at the NHL level.

The Penguins are winners of 5 of their last 6 and have some winnable games coming up on the schedule. While every game is tough, there is no excuse this team can’t win more games and try and break away from the Metropolitan Division pack.

Advertisements

Center Of Attention

Greg McKegg has been reliable thus far for the Penguins. He provides skating ability and the coveted ability to kill penalties.

Known as Kegger, McKegg hasn’t been a weakness to the team. He has focused on his game and has provided impact in games. He has provided some offense with three points in seven games compared to last year’s 3rd line center Nick Bonino who only has 1 point in 5 games. Also, McKegg has a 50% face off win percentage compared to Bonino’s 47%.

He’s off to a great start and hopefully he can keep his production up throughout the year. Although he’s been a good center thus far for the team, the team needs to find a better player to replace him in that role. 

Don’t get me wrong McKegg is a solid player with upside to his game but he can’t be the 3rd line center all year and into the playoffs. However, I do believe that he would be an asset to the 4th line center role. If he can continue his face off percentage and be a solid penalty killer, he will be in a Pens uniform.

If a trade happens for a 3rd line center, Carter Rowney will move to the wing and now the Penguins would have a solid 4th line that provides great penalty killing ability. All while it will add scoring depth to the lineup. This all depends on if McKegg can keep his production up throughout the season, which is possible. 

So watch closely to McKegg and his development this season because if he keeps playing well then expect to hear his name throughout the season and through the playoff race. He could be a huge role player for this team when it matters most.

McKegg Emerging As Third Line Center

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play a game exactly one week from tomorrow night to open the season. They haven’t made any official announcement yet, but it seems as though Greg McKegg will be the third line center for the Penguins.

After the Penguins reassigned a vast majority of their players to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier today, including candidates Adam Johnson and Teddy Blueger, it is almost assured McKegg has done enough in training camp to entice the coaches to place him on their roster.

The Penguins will entrust a player who has played 65 NHL games to hold down the third-line center for them for the foreseeable future unless the Penguins go out and acquire a piece. As recently as Sunday, general manager Jim Rutherford was quoted as saying “it’s just not there right now” in regards to the price the Penguins want to pay to acquire the piece.

The early part of the season isn’t the most pressing time for the team to acquire a third line center. Although, it does not strike me that McKegg will be adequate enough to hold down these minutes in an efficient enough manner to play 82 games in that position. Carter Rowney, of whom I am a big fan, is not adequate of holding those minutes, either. Both, however will be great fourth line centers should the opportunity present itself. Rowney will be the team’s fourth-line center when the season begins.

On Friday, head coach Mike Sullivan gave McKegg his endorsement.

“I’ve been really impressed with Kegger,” Sullivan said. “I think he’s really made a positive impression on our coaching staff.”

The negative about McKegg, as compared to former Penguins’ third line center Nick Bonino is that he won’t contribute nearly as much on the offensive side of the puck. Bonino didn’t light up the scoreboard either. But he was more involved than McKegg likely will be as McKegg has only had 9 points in his 65 career games.

McKegg’s game won’t be about scoring and that is something the Penguins will have to live with. There is a good chance he could have Carl Hagelin to his left and Patric Hornqvist to his right on opening night and throughout the early part of the season.

He will be tasked with trying to play defense while Hagelin and Hornqvist will be handling the offensive side of things.

The only drawback to no bonafide third-line center is that it will mean more Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Usually, this sounds like a blessing. But after two straight seasons of playing until the middle of June and having a shorter break than the rest of the league, the stars could use the reduction of even a few minutes per game. They struggled with this post-Jordan Staal and pre-Bonino.

Towards the middle and latter stages of this season, based on team’s standings, more and more legitimate third-line centers will become available. Until then, McKegg looks like the guy the Penguins will have to roll with at third-line center.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Roster Preview: Center

For the second instalment of this series, we’re turning our attention to the center position. I’m going to include JS Dea in this, even though he hasn’t technically been re-signed yet. He has been qualified as an RFA and has no arbitration rights, so he will either be signed or face a year of not playing any hockey whatsoever. We also encounter our first players on AHL only contracts.

Greg McKegg, AHL Experience : 4 Years

McKegg_Panthers_2017

A free agent signing from Tampa Bay who had picked him up on waivers from Florida around the 2017 trade deadline, Greg McKegg, brings a good amount of AHL experience to the Baby Penguins as well as an understanding of what it entails to be a call-up option for the big club. Following the path of many AHL players, McKegg plays a bottom-6 role in the NHL, but when it comes to the AHL, he plays in a scoring role more often than not. He also has some untapped offensive potential, as shown by his junior scoring totals and that he has only just turned 25. Surrounded by the offensive talent in the WBS top-6, McKegg is my pick to surprise a lot of people with his AHL play and may genuinely bring some competition to the 4th line C spot in the NHL. If he spends the entire year in the AHL, I expect him to pot 20 goals, with 25-30 assists.

Teddy Blueger, AHL Experience : 1 Year


Teddy Blugers

We have previously discussed my expectations for Teddy Blueger here, and I cannot state how much of a solid prospect I believe he is. His offensive production was a significant sign of a player who is growing rapidly, and I wouldn’t get too comfortable seeing Blueger in WBS long term. I predict Bluger will pot 10 goals with 35-40 assists while playing as the 2nd line center for much of the year when he is in the AHL.

JS Dea, AHL Experience: 3 Years

Jean-Sebastien-Dea.jpg

Currently an unsigned RFA, Jean-Sébastien Dea has no arbitration rights so he will return to the Penguins. Although he is waiver eligible, I do not expect teams to be queueing up to try and pluck Dea off waivers. While age is on his side at the age of 23, Dea has shown little progress on his offense and has been molded by the Penguins into more of a defensively conscious player than he was coming in from juniors. What Dea does have to his advantage is that he has experience playing on the right wing, so expect to see him get plenty of time out there throughout the season. I expect 20 goals, 20 assists for a full year of AHL play from Dea, but he may see some spot call-up duty depending on how injured the NHL Penguins get up front.

Colin Smith, AHL Experience : 4 Years

AHL: FEB 20 San Antonio Rampage at Lake Erie Monsters

A small but speedy center, Colin Smith is the first of the AHL only signings that we have come across. Previously playing for San Antonio, Toronto, and Lake Erie, Smith has a massive amount of AHL experience for having only just turned 24. His role on WBS is yet to be decided, with McKegg, Blugers, and Dea likely to be ahead of him on the depth chart. While Smith is likely more suited to a scoring role based on his passing ability and his size, he also has a strong enough two-way game in order to play in a bottom-six role. With call-ups, rotations, and form taken into account, I expect to see Smith appear in about 60 games, potting about 15 goals and 30 assists.

Jarrett Burton, AHL Experience: 2 Years

Jarrett Burton

Jarrett Burton split his time between Wheeling and WBS last season after signing his first AHL pro contract. I’d expect more of the same this year. A bottom-6 guy in the AHL, Burton will likely start the year in Wheeling again until call-ups hit Wilkes-Barre and then he’ll slot into the bottom-6 at either wing or center, depending on the need of the team. I expect not a tremendous amount out of Burton this year, hitting 10 goals and 10 assists if he spends about 60 games in the AHL.

Troy Josephs, AHL Experience: Rookie

Troy Josephs


A 7th round pick of the Penguins back in 2013, Troy Josephs signed to an AHL contract at the conclusion of Clarkson University’s season and his senior season. A pretty averagely sized center at 6 foot and 194 pounds, Josephs fits a similar mold to most of the players in WBS in that they skate like the wind and they play a solid 200 foot game. He managed to appear in 13 regular season games and 1 playoff game playing on the 4th line; and given his potential development, he’ll likely start in the AHL and remain there. I expect 10 goals and 15 assists from a full season in the AHL for Josephs.

Riley Bourbonnais, AHL Experience: Rookie


Just signed as I’m writing this article (good timing Riley), Riley Bourbonnais is a center who was playing for Wheeling after the end of RPI’s college season where he was the captain. He then put up 8 points through 10 ECHL games for Wheeling and made an appearance at the NHL Penguins development camp, earning himself an AHL contract. A smaller but skilled forward, Bourbonnais was one of the few bright spots on a pretty abysmal RPI and while he is likely to start in the ECHL, expect to see Bourbonnais make a solid impression in the AHL by the end of the year, probably approaching 0.5 points per game when he does play up for Wilkes-Barre.