Jordan Greenway was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the Minnesota Wild logo Monday morning as he unlaced his skates at his new dressing-room stall inside KeyBank Center.
Greenway smiled as Edmonton Oilers play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels asked the Sabres’ newest forward about his time playing with Tage Thompson at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
It’s one of several connections Greenway had to the Sabres before his trade from Minnesota to Buffalo ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline Friday. Greenway’s time in the Wild organization overlapped with that of Alex Tuch and Tyson Jost. But one of his ties to his new home will matter more than the rest.
Greenway, a 6-foot-6 winger, like Thompson, was coached at the NTDP by the Sabres’ Don Granato, who, according to General Manager Kevyn Adams, emphatically advocated for his former player to join Thompson, Tuch and Jost in Buffalo.
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“The one thing about him was he always knew how to get the players that he had to play their best, I think,” Greenway said ahead of his Sabres debut against the Oilers. “I think he knows how to make each guy individually go and what they need. He cares about his players. It’s not always Xs and Os, you’ve got to do this and that. It’s, how do you get Jordan comfortable out there, how do you get any of the guys? I think that’s big. I think that was huge at the NTDP. I think it’s huge at this level. It’s something that I’m really excited for. He’s a guy I have enjoyed playing for and I’m excited to play for.”
This is a fresh start for Greenway, who added that he was “pumped” when told about the deal. His season had not gone well in Minnesota, the club that selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft. The 26-year-old missed training camp with an injury, experienced a setback that kept him out of the Wild’s lineup in 16 of 18 games to start the season and totaled only two goals with seven points in 45 games before the trade.
The Sabres moved two draft choices, including a 2023 second-round pick, to add a player who Granato, Adams and others in hockey operations believe can reach new heights in a system that suits his strengths. Greenway has the speed to excel with the youngest team in the NHL, and his effectiveness on the forecheck is a perfect complement to the rest of the skilled forwards on the roster.
Greenway spent his first morning skate Monday next to Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo, both of whom play a hard, direct style that should simplify the transition. Greenway noticed during his games against Buffalo this season that it’s a far different team than it was a few years ago.
Thompson and Tuch are among the list of Sabres having career years under Granato. This won’t be a pitstop for Greenway, either. He’s under contract through 2024-25 with an annual cap hit of $3 million, so he’ll be able to grow with the franchise’s core players over the next two seasons.
Greenway agreed with his former general manager, Bill Guerin, that a change was needed, though he added that he never dwelled on the uncertainty while averaging a career-low 13:18 of ice time.
“Yeah, it's not something that maybe I was thinking about every day, whether I needed a change of scenery, this or that,” Greenway said. "It was just more of go out there and play and see what happens. But you look at how I've been playing and maybe the production, this or that, and it's easy to say maybe he needed something different. … I think this is a great opportunity for me, and good things are to come for both myself and the team.”
Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Asplund are best friends, former roommates and, now, each other’s cheerleader from afar. While Olofsson continues his career in Buffalo, Asplund embarks on a fresh start with the Nashville Predators after his trade Friday afternoon.
“It’s obviously tough,” said Olofsson, who has been a teammate of Asplund’s since their time in Rochester. “He’s one of my best friends. It’s a little bit bittersweet. He hasn’t been playing a lot here, and I felt like he needed to get back to playing hockey again. It’s a good opportunity for him to prove himself. I’m happy for him that he got the opportunity, but it stinks to lose him here. It’s the business part of it, though. It is what it is.”
Sabres defensemen Mattias Samuelsson and Riley Stillman were unavailable Monday against Edmonton because of upper-body injuries and are considered “day to day”, though the latter participated in the morning skate while wearing a yellow noncontact jersey.
Samuelsson, Stillman and Jost weren’t ruled out for the Sabres’ game Tuesday against the New York Islanders.