As we keep going up higher in the ranks, it becomes harder to make major jump up in the rankings. We have moved away, for the most part, from prospects with which we have little background, and who play in obscure leagues we don't have much access to. We're dealing with prospects that don't require being an obsessive Leaf fan to know, guys who are fixtures in the system and expected to be part of the franchise going forward.
I mentioned on Friday that Tyler Biggs served as a cut-off point of sorts in our rankings; almost a point of separation between prospects we aren't crazy about and the guys that have a real chance.
I pointed out the difference between McKegg and Biggs in our rankings was a staggering 39 points. That same distance was the difference between McKegg, who fell one spot from last year to #15, and our choice at #8.
On this year's countdown, there was a clear top tier of 3 players, 2 more choices that were unanimous top 5 choices, and then ten interchangeable prospects that all had varying degrees of confidence from the panel. McKegg is one of the prospects that has the most questions about his future as an NHL pro, and so he fell to the bottom of the group.
While the second half of McKegg's rookie season with the Toronto Marlies was helped along by the end of the lockout, giving him an increased role, he struggled with inconsistency. McKegg seemed to shift back and forth between being able to find the scoresheet with regularity and not being able to dominate play as he so often did in the OHL.
McKegg is far from the first prospect to have an adjustment period, and the stretches of play where he showed flashes of his potential, including a strong playoff performance (6 points in 9 playoff games). McKegg will be expected to build on his performance from last season, and with much less competition for ice time this season, and a preference for young players, McKeggg should get ample opportunities to improve his offensive game this season, while also developing the defensive side of his game, a necessary step to advance to the NHL.
It's interesting to note that in last year's rankings, the group had much more of a level of consensus placement of McKegg at around 15, with one or two outliers. This time, however, the ratings have much more fluctuation. McKegg made big jumps up on a few people's ballots, dropped considerably on Chemmy's, and stayed right about where he was on others. The newcomers all seemed to have him more or less in this range, though he was slightly higher on Steve's list than on Bower Power or 67Sound's.
The more intersting development has been the slow leak in McKegg's placement on this list, having dropped 1 spot in each successive edition.
Once the lockout ended and all the NHLers stopped hogging the ice time, McKegg developed into a useful forward for the Marlies and put up decent offensive numbers. He's going to get a lot of opportunities to succeed this year. I remain bullish on Fartface.
Decent first season in AHL, but must take the reigns as top contributor on offense. ETA - 2014
As mentioned earlier in the article, McKegg's total of 153 points was miles ahead of Tyler Biggs for 15th place, and a comfortable 8 points behind the #14 prospect (in part a result of Chemmy's low ranking).
McKegg remains an interesting high-risk, high-reward prospect from the 2010 Draft. With a track record of offensive success at the minor and junior levels, McKegg has the raw tools to be a capable top six offensive contributor. Whether the rest of his game can evolve to NHL quality will likely determine his career prospects.