By Herald on December 31, 2020.
The pen has been put to the paper and Ridly Greig’s National Hockey League journey is officially underway.
After being selected by the Ottawa Senators in the first round and 28th overall in the 2020 NHL draft Oct. 6, the Lethbridge product and forward for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League signed a three-year entry level contract with the team Tuesday.
The signing caps off a wild two-and-a-half months that saw Greig become NHL property before getting an invited to the 2021 Canadian World Junior Team selection camp in Red Deer, only to have that delayed when he tested positive for COVID-19 in early-November.
Tuesday, however, was about putting his name on the dotted line after a breakout second season in Brandon in which Greig scored 26 goals and 60 points in 56 games, prompting the Sens to snag him in the first round.
“Obviously it’s nice to have it done,” said Ridley, on the phone from Ottawa Wednesday afternoon as he now prepares for the start of Senators training camp next week. “People have been texting me and saying ‘Congrats’. I’m pretty excited and looking forward to getting things going.”
What’s next is his first NHL training camp as Greig undergoes COVID testing after his positive result nearly two months ago.
“It starts with different groups,” said Greig of the Sens camp. “It depends on who you are, but for me, I have to do a couple more tests for the COVID I had and I should be good to go.”
Greig tested positive for Nov. 8 after skating with a small group of players in Brandon.
“I’m still making my way back into it,” he said. “I’m feeling a lot better from a month ago. I haven’t skated a while, but I can’t wait to get back on the ice and play and stickhandle the puck. So I’m looking forward to that.
“Mostly I’ve been working out here at the hotel. I’m really excited to get going and meet the guys.”
Still, Greig managed to get in a little ice time prior to the Senators camp.
After his 14-day quarantine in November that delayed his trip to the Canadian Junior Team selection camp, Greig arrived in Red Deer just in time for the camp to get shut down Nov. 26 with a COVID scare that sent the team into a two-week quarantine.
“I was on the ice a couple of times, but then unfortunately we had to go into quarantine,” said Greig.
As one of the cuts before the camp resumed, Greig still pulled some positives from his experience in Red Deer.
“It was just really cool to be there with the best under-20 players in Canada,” he said. “During our quarantine we had a lot of Zoom calls and different things with the team and lots of special guests. I definitely took quite a few learning opportunities there from different people and different players. It was definitely a really good experience for myself.”
Greig, who turned 18 Aug. 8, came up through the Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association.
The five-foot-11, 180 pound forward played for the Lethbridge Val Matteotti bantam AAA Golden Hawks from 2015 to 2017.
In 2016-17 – the year he was drafted by the Wheat Kings – Greig had 22 goals and 71 points in 35 games for the Golden Hawks.
In the 2017-18 season, he laced up with the Lethbridge midget AAA Hurricanes, helping the team to the Alberta Midget Hockey League championship as well as a bronze medal at the Telus Cup.
Heading into his first NHL camp, Greig can take some advice from a fellow NHL first-round draft pick, his father, Mark, who was drafted 15th overall in 1990 by the Hartford Whalers.
“We’ve been chatting quite a bit back and forth,” said Greig. “He’s given me quite a few tips so far throughout my career and obviously the first training camp is pretty nerve wracking for some people. But I’m really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get on the ice.”
As for when the WHL will get back on the ice, that remains a question mark with the pandemic ongoing.
On Dec. 15 the league announced another delay to the start of the season, bumping the Jan. 8 start time to a later date to-be-determined.
It was the third delay to puck drop on the season following attempted starts in October and December.
“It’s definitely wears on you a little bit,” said Greig. “There are so many unknowns, but right now I’m looking forward to camp and training and getting ready for the season.”
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