After a season that saw him play for three teams in three different leagues spanning two continents, Alexandre Grenier has settled in nicely with the Utica Comets this season and is making a case that he may be ready for a look with the Vancouver Canucks in the not too distant future.
Grenier started last season with EC Salzburg in Austria, but just 25 games into the season he returned to North America where he appeared in 37 games with the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL, posting 31 points (10-21-31) in 37 games before having a four-game cup of coffee in the AHL.
Now, with a coaching staff that has confidence in him and familiar linemates on a regular basis, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder has shined this season with the Comets, sitting third on the team in points with 32 (15-17-32) in 51 games.
“He is a guy I heard a lot about coming into the year,” said Comets head coach Travis Green. “When I saw him for the first time I thought there was no reason he doesn’t have a chance to play in the NHL. He is big, skates well and has a shot that would be in the top 15-percent of the NHL. He is always going to be able to score goals because of his shot.”
Grenier, who also sits second on the Comets in goals, third in assists and shots (113) as well as fourth in penalty-minutes (48), credits Green and his line mates for his success so far this season.
“I think the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in me,” said Grenier. “I have been working hard and doing a lot of video. I think my line mates have had a lot to do with this. Archibald and I have been playing together a lot this year and I think the chemistry is there.”
Green, who says it was tough to build chemistry at the start of the year as nobody on the team had really played together for an extended period of time entering the season, says Grenier could learn a bit from playing with the more physical Archibald.
“I think it has been good for Grenier to watch a guy like Archibald and see the way he plays,” said Green. “He is still far away from making it, but he is a lot closer than he was three months ago. I think he has a chance. He needs to work shift in and shift out and he needs to realize it’s hard to play that way. He is a guy that has some great opportunities ahead of him if he keeps working.”
He has always had the size and the shot, but the physical side of his game had been missing and Grenier knew it.
“I have been using my size more,” said Grenier. “The past couple years I think I have had some problems using my size and working down low, but this year there has been a big change in that and it’s showing now.”
When he puts it all together, Grenier is developing into one of the top young power-forwards in the AHL. He currently sits 15th in AHL rookie scoring and 11th in the rookie goal department, but the Laval, QC, product knows he needs to keep the pace up for the whole season if he wants to join the likes of Archibald, Benn Ferriero, Kellan Lain, Pascal Pelletier and Jeremy Welsh in getting a chance with the big club.
“I need to keep my battle level as high as I can and keep working the way I have all season,” said Grenier. “My job is to make it hard for them to choose a guy to come up and I need to keep working hard and hopefully I can get the call at some point.”