The hockey community, be it large in number and international, can feel very small at times.
There were two names called at the 2016 NHL Draft in June, both from the University of Wisconsin, and both of some importance to Jordan Greenway, selected in the second round in 2015 by the Minnesota Wild.
The first was Luke Kunin, whom the Wild used the 15th pick to select. The second was J.D. Greenway, Jordan’s younger brother.
All three prospects (J.D. property of the Toronto Maple Leafs) are currently in Plymouth, Michigan for the United States National Junior Evaluation Camp. The elder Greenway participated in the camp last year, but was left off the United States’ 2016 World Junior roster.
“I don’t really think about what happened last year. I put that behind; it’s a new year,” Greenway said. “I’ve learned a lot of things at [Boston University] through last year, and I’m coming in as a new player."
Instead of dwelling, Greenway, listed in the Wild’s system at 6-foot-6, 226 pounds, has been taking in the critiques and marching orders from Minnesota and his coaching staff at Boston University, where he’s returning for his sophomore season this fall.
“For the most part I hear pretty much the same things all the time,” Greenway said. “It’s just the player that I am. It’s always: take the puck to the net, use your body down low, and live at the net. It’s not too hard understanding what they want me to do. It’s all pretty much the same information.”
Though he said his playing weight last year was around 215, Greenway said he’s been closer to 230 or 235 this summer, a concerted effort in the gym to add size to his frame.
He’s also been working on his foot speed, and said he hasn’t noticed the extra weight slowing him down during the Wild’s Development Camp, or in Plymouth.
“It’s easier to hold people off. I don’t get knocked around a whole lot,” he said. “Speed wise, quickness wise, I still have a lot to do just to get quicker. My speed has pretty much stayed the same even though I gained some weight.”
When he arrived for this latest World Junior camp, there were plenty of familiar faces. From the three other Wild prospects — all of whom were at Development Camp — to his younger brother, to four projected Boston University teammates, and other players he’s come to know through USA Hockey activities, it’s the same old gang for Greenway.
“Coming back and seeing a bunch of your old teammates, and even my brother being here, it’s allowing me to calm down,” he said. “It just makes the experience all that much better. And being here last year allowed me to get some of the nerves out quicker and kind of have a little bit more confidence going into it.”
And while that can create a sense of comfort, Greenway said, and though he’s not thinking about being passed over for the 2016 team, he’s out to send the message he deserves to be there.
“I’ve really been competing hard, using my body, and offering some things that maybe not a lot of other guys can offer,” he said. “You can’t find a 6-foot-6 guy too often, so I try to stick out in different ways. Whether it’s scoring goals, getting in on the forecheck, penalty kill, or whatever the case is.
“I feel like I’ve really been making a statement so far.”
His friendship with Kunin dates back to their playing days in Ann Arbor, when both were members of the United States National Development Team.
It’s been a Summer of Greenways for Kunin, who, on the University of Wisconsin’s campus, has been hanging out with J.D. Then it was off to Development Camp in Minnesota, where he was reunited with Jordan. He was with both brothers in Michigan, though J.D. was one of the players cut on Tuesday when the USA brass trimmed down the group of prospects.
“Luke’s obviously a great player,” Greenway said. “He and I were really good friends when we played together. Just having somebody there at Development Camp just to kind of go through the process with makes it that much better.”
When Jordan and J.D. did embrace, it was the first time they had spoken in person since J.D. was drafted in June.
“I haven’t seen him in a long time, but just seeing him, catching up with each other, seeing how everything is going that was great,” Greenway said. “Knowing now that he’s gone through the draft process, it’s all an uphill battle for him. It’s good to be able to help him out and tell him about my experiences, and help pave the way for him, giving him all the tips I can give him. I can only wish him the best of luck because he’s gone a long way.”
Though Greenway’s ultimate goal is to make the final United States roster that travels to Canada in late December for the 2017 World Junior Championship, this camp, and the Wild’s Development Camp have served as a springboard to help him prepare for the collegiate season.
“It’s getting some good competition and good hockey before the season starts as well,” Greenway said. “It’s been a good summer for me.”
It’s there where, with many returning players, and a freshman class that features three first round picks from the 2016 Draft, expectations are sky high.
“We’re expecting big things, and to win a lot of championships,” Greenway said. “That’s more of a positive thing for us. Personally, I’ve always thrived under pressure. I’m really looking forward to next year, and hopefully we have the success that’s expected.”