Ridly Greig was surrounded by his family in Lethbridge on Tuesday night for the first round of the virtual 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The 18-year-old likes to score goals, netting 26 in 56 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings last season, and Tuesday night he waited anxiously to see which NHL team he will hope to score plenty for in the future.
“I was pretty nervous going into it,” Greig laughed. “I don’t know if I ate all day.
“I was sweating throughout the draft, and once I got picked, I was pretty happy.”
The draft’s top prospects were sent a box with the hats of all 31 NHL clubs and it was the cap of the Ottawa Senators that Greig put on following the 28th pick.
“I’m still kind of just soaking it in,” he said.
“Just kind of a rush of emotions, I can’t even really put it into words, but obviously just an exciting experience.”
“Huge excitement for everyone in the house,” Greig’s mom Cindy said, “a very proud moment for mom and the rest of the crew for sure.”
The 18-year-old says the milestone moment has been both an opportunity for reflection and a chance to look forward to what’s to come.
“Obviously, a proud moment for my parents and makes me think about all the sacrifices they’ve made for me,” he said.
“Growing up here I think I had a pretty good team with my age group growing up, and obviously with [former Lethbridge Hurricanes and current Vancouver Giants head coach] Mike Dyck who helped me throughout the years in minor hockey, I have to give him a lot of credit.”
“Looking forward, it’s kind of only the beginning, so I just have to keep on working and training.”
Greig’s selection also means that he follows in the first round footsteps of his dad, Mark, who played a decade in the NHL; drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the first round of the 1990 NHL Draft. The elder Greig also made stops in Toronto, Calgary and Philadelphia.
“Having my dad, who went through the whole experience and played pro and is a scout now, it’s definitely pretty cool,” Ridly said. “Just having a guy like him to talk to after games and kind of just get tips from him definitely helps me a lot.”
“He’s grown up with his sisters playing and watching his dad play,” his mom said, “but he’s always worked hard and focused on just enjoying the moment and having fun and being humble.”
Greig’s father was absent from Tuesday’s celebrations and had to take in his son’s selection on the live feed, as the NHL scout was in Philadelphia working for the Flyers for the draft.
The centerman joins a rebuilding club with a cupboard full of exciting, young prospects, including two other picks from the first round on Tuesday: German forward Tim Stuetzle (3rd overall) and American defenseman Jake Sanderson (5th overall).
“I definitely talked to multiple teams and I talked to the Senators quite a bit throughout the summer and quarantine, so I think I had a pretty decent idea,” he said.
“When they drafted me it was a pretty cool feeling.”
Greig says he immediately started receiving messages from members of the Sens organization.
“I just can’t wait to get out there and meet everyone,” he said. “I know they’re a pretty young team, kind of in a rebuild stage, so I think it’s a good team to get drafted to and get things going.”
Greig was one of six Albertans and seven WHL players taken in the first round of the draft.
“Just playing with and against all of those guys growing up and just to see their names called, I’m so happy and proud for everyone,” he said.
With the draft now complete, Greig’s focus will shift back to the upcoming WHL season — whenever that may be — and fighting for a spot on Hockey Canada’s World Junior Championship roster.
But first, he’ll take a moment to soak in the dream come true and respond to a hoard of text messages.
“My phone was kind of blowing up there for a good hour and it’s still kind of buzzing around,” Greig laughed. “Just lots of congrats and everyone is pretty proud of me, so it definitely feels pretty good.”
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