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Avalanche's A.J. Greer thinking positive

Colorado forward prospect aiming for NHL this season

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Say this for forward A.J. Greer -- the Colorado Avalanche prospect doesn't lack for confidence.

At 6-feet-3 and 204 pounds, Greer is convinced he's ready to begin his professional career at age 19, and his goal at training camp in the fall is to start with the Avalanche rather than San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

"It's not to be cocky, but it's just the way I see it," Greer said. "I don't think anyone works harder than I do. I'm not coming into camp thinking, 'Oh, I'll just go to the 'A.' I'm coming into camp thinking I'm going to make this team, the NHL team.

"First impressions are huge and you have to show what you got. You never know. I'm excited to have my first pro camp. After that, we'll see what happens."

The Avalanche selected Greer in the second round (No. 39) of the 2015 NHL Draft after his freshman year at Boston University, which lost to Providence College two months earlier in the Frozen Four championship game. Saying he was unhappy with his development in school, Greer left halfway through his sophomore year last January to play for Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which drafted him in 2013.

Greer flourished with Rouyn-Noranda, with 16 goals and 11 assists in 33 games. He had 12 goals and 10 assists in 20 playoff games for the Huskies, who won the President's Cup as QMJHL champions and advanced to the Memorial Cup final, falling 3-2 in overtime to London.

"I think it was a really good choice [to leave school]," said Greer, who is from Joliette, Quebec. "I don't think BU was the right fit for me. It's a great program, great coaches, great facilities, great guys on the team. I have nothing bad to say about the program, but from a development standpoint, I didn't see myself in their future. I made the decision to leave for my career and I've made the most of it."

Greer, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Avalanche on July 1, is still eligible to return to Rouyn-Noranda.

"But I want to start my pro career," he said. "I think I'm ready for it, physically and mentally. I think I can play at that level and be a good asset. If they give me a shot, I'll take it and run with it."

Greer said he regained the confidence at Rouyn-Noranda he lost at Boston University, where he had one goal and four assists in 18 games before departing.

"Coming into the 'Q,' I wasn't at the development stage I wanted to be," he said. "Having all those games there and so much time on the ice, I used it to my advantage. I feel way better on the ice skill-wise and skating-wise. I feel way more powerful.

"Practices were a lot longer just because we didn't have class in the mornings, so we would work out and skate for an hour and a half, two hours. Just playing way more boosted my confidence and made me work on the tools of my game that I had before and kind of lost in college."

Determined to make a good impression in training camp, Greer will prepare by staying in Colorado through July with other prospects before heading to Toronto to work with skating instructor Tracy Tutton.

"I'm trying to use every resource that the Avs have, keep it in-house because they have so much to offer," he said. "It's a way to get to know Denver a little bit and get to know some of the guys, the prospects group, just trying to get the most out of my summer.

"I'm trying to absorb everything that I can. On and off the ice we've been learning a lot of things, whether it's nutrition or power skating lessons from Tracy. She's so great, and all the staff is trying to get you developed, the little things you don't normally think of. You have to commit yourself 100 percent while you're in meetings or practices because you only have one chance to make a first impression."

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