Mark Greig, a longtime Flyers scout and a former player with the team, has a dilemma.
In a way, it’s a good dilemma, but it’s still causing him some uneasy moments.
The Flyers have the 23rd overall selection in the first round of the NHL draft Tuesday, and there is a chance that Greig’s son, Ridly, a gritty and fast 5-foot-11, 165-pound center who has been compared to a younger version of Travis Konecny, will still be available.
And, so, Mark Greig’s heartstrings are being pulled. He wants what is best for the Flyers but also wants what is best for his son.
Greig, 50. is dedicated to the Flyers. He spent parts of four NHL seasons playing for them, and he has scouted for the Orange and Black since 2009.
But, like any father, he’s even more dedicated to his son. So it’s understandable why Greig, who scouts in Western Canada, doesn’t want his 18-year-old son being drafted by the Flyers. It would put extra pressure on him and place him under the microscope.
If he failed, there would be cries of nepotism and complaints that he was drafted only because of his father’s position with the team.
In 2010, the Flyers drafted defenseman Nick Luukko, whose father, Peter, was the club’s president. Nick Luukko never made it to the NHL. He had a cup of coffee with the AHL’s Phantoms, and last year was an assistant coach with the Reading Royals of the ECHL. But he wasn’t scrutinized because he was only a sixth-round pick. Players drafted in that round rarely make it to the NHL.
There’s a lot more scrutiny, of course, on players chosen in Round 1.
You can miss on a player chosen in Round 6 and not let it affect your franchise, but a first-round miss is a different story.
So Mark Greig has let the Flyers know he would prefer they pass on Ridly if he is available.
On the other hand…
Ridly Greig, who had 60 points in 56 Western Hockey League games for Brandon last season, seems as if he was born to be a Flyer. He plays with an edge, and he has been a Flyers fan his entire life, with a particular affinity for Claude Giroux. When he was 11, he was a “runner” who helped Flyers executives at the 2014 NHL draft held in Philadelphia.
The Flyers respect Mark Greig’s sentiments, but they say they will pick the best player available at No. 23 – even if it happens to be speedy Ridly Greig.
Ryan Wagman, director of prospect scouting at the respected McKeen’s Hockey, agrees with the elder Greig, saying it would be in the Flyers’ best interest to bypass Ridly Greig in the draft.
“He’s a fun player to watch,” said Wagman, who says Greig is "somewhat of a late bloomer and projects him as a second- or third-line performer down the road. “He plays the game at a high pace. He’s not a dynamic, high-skilled player, but he has enough skill to make it work.”
That said, Wagman believes it would be "best for his development not to get drafted by Philadelphia. Just because of that connection [with his father]. It’s my belief that those legacy picks are set up to disappoint. If not to fail, then to at least disappoint. And I don’t know that he’s that much better than the other players who will be available at that time.”
Brent Flahr, the Flyers' assistant general manager and the man who heads the team’s draft board, called it a unique situation to have Greig as a scout and his son as a player who would make an intriguing first-round pick.
“We obviously have a lot of internal knowledge of the kid, his character and all the details of him as a player.” Flahr said in a conference call with reporters this past week. "We’ve had a number of conversations with Mark. He was really uncomfortable with us scouting him this year, worrying about the backlash from you guys [in the media] as far as nepotism. We have had lots of viewings of him.
“At the end of the day,” he added, “if he’s the best player for the Flyers, that’s a conversation we have to have. We’ll deal with it and that’s the reality. … If we draft him, I’m sure we can figure it out.”
General manager Chuck Fletcher said, “Every decision we make is going to be in the best interest of the Flyers.”
Fletcher, who would not allow Mark Greig to do an interview about the emotions he is battling as the draft approaches, said there’s “not going to be any favoritism or drafting a player because of his last name. If there’s a player that’s clearly the best player on the board, we are doing a disservice to our organization by not selecting him.”
The best-case situation might be for Greig to be selected before No. 23, so the Flyers aren’t put in a sticky situation.
If Greig is available at 23, the feeling here is that the Flyers won’t choose him. If they don’t, it will be interesting to compare the career paths of both Greig and their selection.