Two prominent WHL stars who played for Manitoban teams this past year will be suiting up in Sweden’s HockeyEttan professional league this fall for the 2020-21 season. On Thursday it was announced that Brandon Wheat Kings forward Ridley Grieg and Winnipeg ICE forward Connor McClennon have agreed to terms with Karlskrona HK, and will be travelling to Sweden in the imminent future.
In a radical move, the two 18-year-old 2020 NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects – who are predicted to be selected within the first three rounds of this coming draft – have chosen to pursue European professional hockey overseas, rather than play out the upcoming season with their respective Western Hockey League teams.
In moving to Sweden’s Tier III professional league, the two Alberta products will spend the coming year suiting up against men in an attempt to boost their draft stock, earn a monthly paycheque and take in the sights and sounds of Sweden, while playing within a 45-team super-league.
The individual one-year contracts will each carry an ‘out-clause’ for which the two Canadians will be allowed to return to home soil for a part or all of the upcoming season (anticipated to begin in early December). Should the WHL carry on as planned, Greig and McClennon could return home with half a season of professional experience under their respective belts, in time to play out the proposed 68-game CHL calendar.
“These are two world-class talents, as both represented Canada’s junior national team last season and are expected to go in the draft this summer,” Karlskrona general manager Erik Belin said in a team-issued press release. “These days, players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever produced. These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft. We welcome Ridly Greig and Connor McClennon to Karlskrona HK!”
Greig, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound product of Lethbridge, spent the past two seasons playing with the Wheat Kings, where he moved into a prominent role last year. In 123 career WHL games with Brandon, the left-shooting winger amassed 40 goals, 96 points and 140 penalty minutes. Greig produced at over a point-per-game rate in 2019-20, putting up 26 goals, 60 points and 83 penalty minutes in just 56 games.
McClennon, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward of Wainwright, has been with the Kootenay/Winnipeg ICE program for two seasons. He served as an alternated captain in 2019-20, where he earned 21 goals, 49 points and 25 penalty minutes in just 42 games played. He finished fifth in team scoring and was a +9 on the season. In 93 total WHL games, McLennon has 35 goals, 78 points an 45 penalty minutes.