ST. PAUL -- Let the Jordan Greenway era begin.
Greenway, one of the Wild's most prized prospects, signed his entry-level contract Monday, foregoing his final season at Boston University to begin his professional hockey career.
That career is expected to begin soon, too, and not in the American Hockey League. Greenway will meet the Wild in Nashville later on Monday and should slot right into the lineup in the midst of a frantic push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We feel he's a good player. I certainly think he can fit in our top 12 to play, and it'll be up to [Wild coach] Bruce [Boudreau] and the coaches to find the right role," said Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher. "Obviously, it'll be important for Jordan to show well, too, and play well. He's capable of doing it.
"You want to be a little bit of careful of putting a lot of pressure on him -- he's just a kid -- but I think he can come in and play."
Video: Wild excited for Greenway
That doesn't leave much of a learning curve for Greenway, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound winger from Canton, New York. But this isn't the normal college-to-NHL jump either. The NCAA ranks -- or any other hockey league for that matter -- aren't exactly littered with guys as physically developed as Greenway.
His experience on the international stage; at the World Junior Championships, where he helped Team USA to gold last year; at the World Championships; and last month at the Winter Olympic Games, should help ease the transition, as well.
"I thought he played well [at the Olympics]," Fletcher said. "[Team USA] used him in a third-line checking role, and he had a lot of tough matchups. He plays on the defensive side of the puck, he angles well, he wins battles pretty easily. With his strength and determination he gets to the front of the net so there's a lot of things he can do with the size and his intelligence that will translate quickly."
While Greenway has surprising burst for a man his size, and quick hands that allowed him to score 13 goals and 35 points in 36 games with BU this season, he's also exactly what you'd expect from a guy with his frame. He's a willing combatant near the blue paint who won't have to be told more than once to plant himself there.
"There's not a lot of pretty goals this time of year; you gotta get there, you gotta take the goalie's eyes away, you gotta fight for space, and Jordan does a good job of that," Fletcher said. "We could use a few more big bodies getting to the front of the net. That fourth line has done a great job for us lately getting to the net and winning battles down low, and certainly he's a guy that can do that."
It's that willingness that could earn Greenway immediate time on the power play as well.
Video: Jordan Greenway on next step with Wild
"[He is] a big, powerful left winger that can bully by people," Boudreau said. "He goes to the front of the net and he stays there. That's something we lack a little bit."
Greenway was selected 50th overall by the Wild (second round) in the 2015 NHL Draft. He's no stranger to the State of Hockey either, as he played bantam and midget pucks at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault.
He progressed from there to the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then to Boston University, where he served as an alternate captain as a junior this season.
Greenway scored a goal and an assist on Sunday as the Terriers lost to Michigan 6-3 in the Northeast Region Final, one win shy of a Frozen Four berth next week at Xcel Energy Center.
"I think he's accomplished a lot in college in three years," Fletcher said. "He's played in the Olympics, he's played in World Championships, and it's rare to find a player with that combination of size, speed and skill, and he's a guy that we think is ready to play in the NHL. It's a tough league -- I'm sure there'll be adjustments and he's gonna have to learn the league and figure out how his game translates at this level -- but having said that, his skillset's pretty impressive."