Wild's Greenway seeking to build his game

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Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune
·3 min read
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GLENDALE, ARIZ. – Marcus Foligno looked like he was going to shoot the puck, lifting his right skate and leaning left as if loading up for a release.

Instead, Foligno heaved a pass that caught linemate Jordan Greenway in stride and Greenway buried it into the back of the net.

"It was a great pass," Greenway said. "But with his skill set, I knew he was going to find me. So, I was ready for it."

The goal, the second for the Wild in a 5-2 win against the Coyotes on Monday, was Greenway's first in 22 games to snap the longest drought in any of his four NHL seasons.

But overall, Greenway has become a more consistent player this year, achieving growth in a crucial season for him to establish his identity as a pro.

"I'm always looking to build on my game," Greenway said. "I think I've taken strides this year. But when it comes down to it, the entire team's been playing well. That helps everyone individually, makes everyone look good. But I'm always looking to build, for sure."

Greenway's exit meeting with General Manager Bill Guerin after last season set the stage for this improvement.

He had just finished up a streaky sophomore campaign that revealed snippets of his potential but not a complete picture. The tone of his talk with Guerin was Greenway realizing what kind of player he wants to be, a conversation Guerin felt included honesty from both sides.

"Jordan wants to be really good," Guerin said. "He wants to have an impact on the team. I know he wants to win. He doesn't want to just be any other player, but you can't just want that. You have to work for it."

Not only did Greenway address the physical side of his game, getting into "really good shape," Guerin said, but the 24-year-old also focused on his mental outlook.

"He worked hard at just kind of growing up a little bit and started approaching the game a little more businesslike," Guerin said. "He wants to fulfill his potential. What he was doing before wasn't working."

Although the Wild moved on from other young players in the offseason, trading away Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato, the team re-signed Greenway to a two-year, $4.2 million and Greenway recognized the crossroads he was at in his career.

And nearing the end of the regular season, he's clearly made a beeline toward progress.

The winger leads the Wild in assists with 20, which ties his career high. Greenway has six goals, and his 26 points are two away from matching the career-best 28 he set in 2019-20. He's also two games shy of 200.

"He's kind of leveled out the peaks and valleys a little bit," Guerin said. "They're not so high or so low, and that's really important when your bad games aren't that bad. That's a really big step for a young player."

Aside from his production, Greenway's been much more of a physical presence on a regular basis — leveraging his 6-foot-6, 241-pound frame to sustain forechecks and rattle the opposition. His 67 hits rank third on the team, behind linemates Foligno (76) and Joel Eriksson Ek (78), and the line's rugged demeanor has illuminated Greenway's strengths.

"When it comes to physicality, I think when he's on, it's scary for teams," Foligno said. "It's something we've seen a lot this year."

Where that style can really have an effect is the playoffs, another opportunity for Greenway to make a difference.

Already, though, he's trending in the right direction.

"He has responded in spades," Guerin said. "The way he's approaching the game now in a more professional manner with a higher-level work ethic, commitment, he's doing extra. Every chance he gets, he's doing extra."