EDMONTON – Jordan Greenway isn’t planning to change the way he plays now that he’s skating alongside offensive leaders Kevin Fiala and Eric Staal in training camp.
Actually, the 6-6, 225-pound winger’s rugged style is probably why he could debut on the Wild’s top line when the team opens its qualifying-round matchup with Vancouver on Aug. 2 in Edmonton.
“Whether I was playing with these two or anyone else,” Greenway said recently during a video conference call from St. Paul, “that’s the role I would play.”
The Canucks’ scouting report on the Wild will undoubtedly focus on Fiala, the team’s leading scorer after his 26-point tear through February and March before the season was paused, but Greenway could also receive some attention.
Not only can his size and strength be difficult to contain, giving him the opportunity to create openings for Fiala to operate, but his physical presence could wear down Vancouver defenders and make their lives tougher on the ice.
Essentially, the playoffs could be Greenway’s time to shine.
And he knows it.
“It’s definitely more physical when it comes to the playoffs,” said Greenway, who scored in Saturday’s scrimmage at Tria Rink in St. Paul. “Definitely more of a grittier type game. There’s not a lot of room, so you gotta find ways to create space. So, it’ll fit right in for me what I’m trying to accomplish out there.”
What will be key is whether Greenway can bring that approach every game of the series.
During the regular season, he wasn’t a consistent physical pest, and he recognized that — acknowledging in November that he needed to bring that edge more frequently.
At the time, he was still seeking his first goal of the season. But as he started to dish out more hits, eventually he was rewarded offensively and ended up scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-2 decision over Arizona on Nov. 14 for his first of eight tallies on the season. Greenway also recorded 20 assists through 67 games.
“We believe he’s in a spot to complement Eric and Kevin,” coach Dean Evason said. “As long as he gets to the net and hangs around there, he’s going to get opportunities. And once the puck is free, if he can get his body engaged, he’s a hard guy to defend and he can protect the puck and clearly if he can get the puck into Staalsie’s hands or Kevin’s hands, good things are going to happen.
“That’s what we think his asset is. Going the net, we think he can score some goals in that area. But we really like his grit and they seem to have a nice chemistry.”
Although he’s only 23, Greenway has playoff experience.
After leaving Boston University to turn pro, he debuted with the Wild late in 2017-18 and appeared in all five games against Winnipeg in the first round. Greenway finished the series with a goal, assist and nine hits — proof he can make a difference when the season is on the line.
“Everything was ramped up times two compared to the regular season,” Greenway recalled. “You’re playing against all good teams, so there’s not a lot of room on the ice, not a lot of room for error. Everyone’s going hard, so it’s definitely going to be competitive — even with the circumstances that we’re dealing with now.
“And, yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”