New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello believes veteran defenseman Andy Greene should be considered among the premier players at his position in the NHL.
Defense - NJD
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 32
SOG: 134 | +/-: 3
The Devils showed that faith Wednesday when they signed Greene, 31, to a multiyear contract extension. No terms were announced, but Northjersey.com reports it is for five years, $25 million.
"Andy has evolved into an all-situation player and that's a tremendous compliment because there are very few in the League that you can say are all-situation players," Lamoriello said. "He can also play both left and right, depending on what is asked of him.
"Andy comes to the rink, does his job day in and day out, and never takes a practice off, never looks left or right, and is always focused on what he's doing. To me, that's a top-flight defenseman."
Greene, who was entering the final year of a four-year contract he signed in the summer of 2011, was signed as a free agent by the Devils on April 4, 2006. He is their third longest-tenured player after forwards Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac.
"He's a pure Devil, and that's another reason we wanted to get this contract done," Lamoriello said.
The native of Trenton, Mich., was the only New Jersey defenseman and one of four Devils to play in all 82 regular-season games last season.
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The Devils failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season.
"With the way things went last year, we weren't that far off," Greene said. "Obviously, the shootout record (0-13) gets thrown out there quite a bit, and if we won a couple of those games, who knows what would have happened. But with the type of game we play, we have a chance to win every night and that's all you could ask for as a player.
"The playoffs are all that matters, because once you're in you have as good a chance as anyone else."
Greene finished with a career-high eight goals, along with a plus-3 rating in 2013-14, and ranked second on among Devils defensemen in scoring with 32 points, trailing Marek Zidlicky (42). In eight seasons with New Jersey, Greene has 28 goals, 149 points and a plus-6 rating in 477 regular-season games. He has three goals, seven points and a plus-4 rating in 45 playoff games.
"It was important for us to have Andy signed to a long-term contract," Lamoriello said. "He carries the most minutes in each critical situation, whether it's 5-on-5, on the power play and, in particular, the penalty kill. So we have to keep ice time away from him so that late in games he isn't tired."
Greene was an alternate captain for the Devils last season.
"His leadership goes unnoticed," Lamoriello said. "He's a quiet leader and respected by the players."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer had nothing but praise for Greene at the conclusion of the season. He led them in blocked shots (129), average ice time (24:34) and average shifts per game (29.1), finished third in takeaways (46) and won their Unsung Hero award.
"His leadership was evident by the voting in our postseason awards," Lamoriello said. "He handles young defensemen very well; he knows what to say and when to say it, and they know when he says something he means it."
Greene said he feels the best way to lead is by coming to the rink and performing as a professional every day.
"I want to take more of a leadership role since I've always been looked at as that type of player," Greene said. "But you can't be someone you're not. I won't say something just to say something to a player. I don't try to force it and become something other than I am."
DeBoer certainly appreciated what Greene brought to the Devils.
"Andy Greene and the season he had; I thought he was outstanding," DeBoer said. "Arguably, he might have been our MVP in my mind for how he played every night, the amount of minutes and what we asked him to do."
The fourth-year coach has entrusted Greene to skate with the younger players on the roster throughout the past three seasons.
"He's not a flashy, end-to-end defenseman like a [Erik] Karlsson in Ottawa, but we'll watch a whole game back and Andy Greene won't make a mistake with the puck," DeBoer said. "He'll make the right decision every time. He'll always be in the right position. That's a rare quality to have that type of consistency in your game and coaches love that."