Known formally by “James Greenway” and informally by most as “JD”, he’s known to us as the sweet 16th ranked prospect on our rankings. From all accounts so far, JD seems to be a good kid with a decent sense of humour, but how does that translate to the ice?
*Not to be confused with his brother, a 2015 Minnesota draft pick Jordan. (Or JD Burke, Darcy Greenaway, or anyone else in the hockey world or otherwise who might have a similar name. It’s James, or JD. Nothing else.)
You may remember this great tweet from the World Juniors earlier this year when Jordan was putting on a show…
I'm not Jordan Greenway #WJHC
— Jd greenway (@JdGreenway12) January 6, 2017
Anyway, let’s get into the nitty gritty of this prospect profile.
What’s his ceiling, or his floor? Will JD move up in our rankings by this time next year? Will he move down?
Or will he remain sixteen for a while?
Megan Kim: 19
Evan Presement: 19
Bobby Cappuccino: 14
Brayden Engel: 16
Dylan Fremlin: 18
Ryan Fancey: 18
Adam Laskaris: Unranked
Not that our personal opinions really mean much, but Greenway just missed the cut on my list, but besides one hot take from Jon, it’s clear most people see him somewhere in the 10-25 range of the Leafs’ prospects.
Coming out of Potsdam New York, Greenway opted for the NCAA route instead of going major junior.
After going to Shattuck St. Mary’s, the same school that produced names such as Nathan MacKinnon, Joe Corvo, Taylor Crosby, Brandon Kozun and Drew Stafford, Greenway entered the US National Team Development Program in time for the 2014-15 season where he’d spend his next two seasons.
Taken in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft by Toronto, here’s what we had to say about him a little over a year ago:
We haven’t gotten too many looks of him so far in Canada, with just the two lone development camps the only time he’s ever really played North of the border since being a Leafs product.
With the USA under-18 team at the world U18 Championship, Greenway was the second highest-scoring defenceman on the American team. Other than that, he’s shown flashes of offensive brilliance but is known more as a big shutdown guy. There’s not enough stats to appreciate that role at the NCAA level, so let’s just take it for what it is. If he does turn into a Leaf one day, it’s not going to be because he’s scoring 10 goals a season from the point.
The Eye Test:
Greenway was virtually a consensus third-fourth round guy during his draft year, peaking at 37th in the ISS draft guy. From most accounts, he’s definitely got decent upside but is likely similar to the infamous talent assessment of Raptors draft pick Bruno Caboclo that he’s “two years away from being two years away”.
Toronto takes James Greenway. Big defender who is more of a shutdown guy but I've seen flashes of quality offense too.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 25, 2016
From SBNation’s college hockey profile on him last year:
He has excellent mobility and agility for a player his size. He’s got really light, quick feet for a 6’4″ defender. That, combined with his big wing span allows him to cover a wide area of ice defensively in a short period of time.
Listed at 6’4″, 205 pounds, his size is the obvious selling point but as always, doesn’t mean much if his skills can’t translate to the NHL level. Just about every profile of Greenway out there will tell you some variation of the same thing: he’s got decent tools and a clear path to succeed, but there’s still a fair amount of development left to go.
As Seen on TV:
TLN GIF-master Dylan Fremlin pulled this GIF for us of a shorthanded goal he scored where you could swear he’s a forward.
The full video can be viewed here.
If you’d like to hear him answer various questions, here he is last month at Development Camp.
It looks like Wisconsin will remain his home. Will he pick up new responsibilities? More ice time? Free snacks? Maybe a part-time job as well?
Greenway’s path to the pros obviously has to do a lot with, you know, his own decisions. With the option to stick in school, go play junior hockey or turn pro all on the table in the near future, it’ll be interesting to follow which path he chooses to take.
From the Leafs’ perspective, there isn’t any need to rush a player like him, where there’s clear other options ahead of him in the prospect pipeline and already at the NHL level. The jump to the NCAA can be a tough one for any player, and unlike junior prospects, there’s not as much of a rush to make them NHL-ready. The youngest player on Wisconsin last season, the jury’s still out on what exactly his role will be like in his sophomore year. As Greenway has (clearly) not signed an ELC or any contract with the organization, they can take their time with how exactly to treat his development.
I won’t speculate too much about a coaching staff’s priorities that I don’t know much of, but the biggest challenge for the Leafs right now is doing their best to make sure Greenway’s getting proper development wherever he ends up playing over the next few seasons before he’s ready to make the jump to pro hockey.
A 1998 birthday, Greenway is still eligible for the American World Junior squad this upcoming year. Maybe we’ll see him making waves in Buffalo like his brother did in Toronto and Montreal the year prior?
If there was a prototypical prospect who is still a “work in progress”, Greenway would come very close to fitting the bill. With just a season removed from his draft year under his belt so far, there’s still quite a bit of work to do into getting Greenway ready for the pro game.
With at least two of the Leafs top-four spots locked up (barring injury, a dip in performance or a transaction) for the next five seasons at least in Morgan Rielly and NIkita Zaitsev, and other strong defensive prospects in Timothy Liljegren, Andrew Nielsen and Travis Dermott, the upcoming sophomore definitely has his work cut out for him if he’s looking to ever crack the roster as an NHL regular and not just be “another guy on the Marlies”.
Also in this series:
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