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Greenway Relishes Chance to Soak Up Experience at World Championships

Wild prospect is one of just three players on the U.S. roster not currently in the NHL

by Brian Hedger / Special to Wild.com

COLOGNE, Germany -- It was the end of an optional morning skate, and Jordan Greenway took full advantage.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward, a 20-year old prospect of the Wild from Boston University, was the last skater off the ice. Before exiting, Greenway had a little fun testing shootout moves against Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck got the better of it, but Greenway scored a couple goals -- including one after sliding the puck through his skates from back to front. It was an uncommon move for a big guy, and is exactly the kind of thing he's trying to forget about as a power forward.

"I like to play more like a Wayne Simmonds [style] in front of the net," said Greenway, referring to the Philadelphia Flyers forward. "Down low, offensively, I think he's unbelievable below the hash marks and down, and that's the kind of game that I want to pursue going forward."

Greenway, who's playing for the U.S. in the 2017 IIHF World Championship, watches Simmonds closely. He might be built more like Dustin Byfuglien, a 6-5, 260-pound defensemen/forward for the Jets, but Greenway sees more similarities between himself and Simmonds (6-2, 185).

"I've been watching him for a good amount of time, especially when I got playing against older guys and I figured out that I'm probably not going to come out here and be a skilled guy," said Greenway, who was drafted by the Wild with the 50th overall pick in 2015 (second round). "It's not like when I was younger and I was able to do that. As I'm getting older, everyone's so skilled. So, for me to have success I've got to use my body and do all those things that he does around the net."

That learning process will continue next season at the collegiate level. Greenway will play a third season for the Terriers and coach David Quinn, opting to delay his professional debut for at least one more season.

"After the season, I definitely considered [turning pro], and kind of waited out my options," said Greenway, who has 15 goals and 57 points for BU in his first two seasons. "I looked at both sides of the table, and then just kind of talked it over. I thought to myself, 'What's going to help me out the most, what situation do I want to be in, and what's going to help me develop the most?' For me, it's going back to BU."

That had to make Quinn and his college teammates happy.

After finishing with 26 points in 39 games as a freshman, on five goals and 21 assists, Greenway doubled his goal total as a sophomore (10). He also matched the 21 assists in two less games and helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship.

Assuming he makes even more progress next season, the Wild will have a potential impact player on the horizon.

"Coming to this tournament, it's helped me see what I have to do to get to the next level," Greenway said. "Coach Quinn and the rest of the (BU) coaching staff have helped me out a ton, and I just think there's more I can do there when it comes to winning championships and stuff like that. I'm excited to go back and fine-tune some things before hopefully I move to the next level."

Greenway might also get a chance to compete for the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, should the NHL not clear players to compete, but he said that wasn't part of his decision.

If it happens, he'll be thrilled, but his focus currently is transfixed on this international tournament. He doesn't have a point through the U.S.'s first seven games, but he has gotten plenty of pointers from his NHL teammates.

"For me, it's a big learning tournament," Greenway said. "In practices and games, I get a lot of experience out there. I see the biggest changes after playing against older men, [rather] than kids my age." 

Blaine native Nick Bjugstad, a Florida Panthers forward and U.S. teammate, went through the same process at the 2013 IIHF World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. 

He helped the U.S win a bronze medal, but was just as happy to share a locker room with NHL players like St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny, Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie and Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk.

When he looks at Greenway, the 6-6, 218-pound Bjugstad gets flashbacks to his own learning curve as a big forward.

"It's tough for young guys to play in this tournament from college," Bjugstad said. "I was in the same boat in Finland four years ago. I played fourth line and just kind of soaked it all in with the NHL guys. So, I think it will be good for him to see that here. He's going to be a really good player one day."

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