The Minnesota Wild might not have Jordan Greenway in their future plans right now. If that's the case, this season will be his last to sell the Wild brass on the idea that he's a core member of their team. The 24-year-old has displayed potential, but he has yet to break out or take his game to the next level.
The Wild might suddenly have an influx of prospects who could be inserted into the opening night roster, putting even more pressure on Greenway. Marco Rossi, Matt Boldy, Adam Beckman, and Calen Addison all have a legitimate chance to make the team after exhibiting strong signs of NHL-ready potential so far.
The reality is that Greenway's time in Minnesota could be coming to an end. There's also an argument to be made that it might be good timing for the Wild to move him while he still has upside and is under team control. He will be an RFA next summer.
Assuming the Wild regard Kevin Fiala as an indispensable core piece, there isn't a top-six spot on the wing for Greenway with Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello (NMC, M-NTC after this season), and prospects like Boldy and Beckman expected to be on the team soon.
Even disregarding the possibility of him becoming a roster or cap casualty, Greenway is entering a contract year. He should be more motivated than ever before. Minnesota's decision won't entirely be determined by what Greenway has done, it's more about what he hasn't done. He has been valuable in a third-line role, but his trajectory hasn't exactly been trending up -- it's been relatively stagnant.
The two most prominent complaints about his game are that he doesn't take advantage of his stature and can be careless at times. That's disappointing considering that he outlasted both promising young forwards Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato but hasn't established himself as a core member of the team.
Remember, this is the same player that had a stern exit meeting with Bill Guerin where the Wild GM said that a stronger work ethic and getting in better shape were items Greenway needed to improve in.
"It's motivating for sure," Greenway said. "We've had a lot of conversations, some tougher than others, but they are all truthful, and they were all good for me to hear. It's motivated me this offseason to get back in the gym a little earlier than I probably would have and just to have a mindset to take my game to the next level and have a bigger impact."
The expectation was that it would be a wake-up call. But has it?
There hasn't been an extremely noticeable difference in his game for a player who has witnessed a roster upheaval over the past several years. Sure, he's still developing and maturing as a pro. But at some point, the Wild have to consider trading him, or it may end up being too late.
The issue with Greenway is that he has been relatively average across the board so far in his NHL career, aside from strong defensive results in 2019-20.
Over three years, Greenway has been below-average across the board. He doesn't drive play or score at a significant rate (with a below-average shot) and has sub-par possession numbers. He has been average in transition too, so there's nothing he excels in.
There's still hope that he can have a big year, considering his size and defensive play showcased during his sophomore season. The problem is that there hasn't been much progression as Greenway didn't build off a strong 2019-20 campaign. Instead, he raised more concerns about what was keeping him from maximizing his potential.
There has been a lack of consistency in his game, which trended downward after last season.
Greenway was worth 1.3 wins above replacement with strong underlying numbers in his sophomore season. During that time, he scored 0.58 goals and 1.8 points per hour, respectively. He followed that up with 0.4 goals and 2.2 points per hour -- a slight increase in points production.
There should be signs of an upward trajectory, but observing him play leaves you wanting a lot more from an energy and production standpoint. Furthermore, there are doubts about whether he can be an effective player away from Joel Eriksson Ek. This season could be Greenway's last opportunity to make his mark, or he could be on his way out of Minnesota.
All Data Via Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick & Hockey-Reference.
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