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Sophomore slump? No worries there, says Wild winger Jordan Greenway

ST. PAUL — From the moment Jordan Greenway made his NHL debut at age 20, it didn’t take a genius to figure out it was only a matter of time before he was a force to be reckoned with.

Greenway had a six-game cup of coffee to finish out the regular season after leaving Boston University, and just like that was thrown into a playoff series with the rival Winnipeg Jets.

Talk about trial by fire.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward was one of Minnesota’s best players in the series, although the bar was low considering how lifeless the Wild looked in losing the series, 4-1.

That experience was huge for Greenway, and followed it with an impressive rookie campaign, scoring 12 goals and 12 assists last season while spending most of his time in a bottom-six role.

Now 22, Greenway is looking to break out this season, not at all worried about the sophomore slump that tends to plague up-and-comers in all sports from time to time.

“I haven’t really thought about it and I don’t think I can — just have to keep looking forward and focus on being here and being in the moment and getting better every day,” he said. “If I can do that, then it won’t be a problem.”

There’s no doubt Greenway has the skillset to be a monster in the league. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in the fledgling stages, using his hulking size to overpower defenders, and displaying a good set of hands for someone his size.

His biggest problem has been not being able to do either with consistency.

“I think a lot of it is confidence,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, who said Greenway looks bigger than he ever has. “You saw his strength and everything else. You’ve seen it in the scrimmages, that he looks like a different guy. Now we want to see it in the real games.”

Right now, Greenway is playing alongside center Joel Eriksson Ek and opposite Luke Kunin, and while that trio has been impressive throughout training camp, it wouldn’t be a shock if Mikko Koivu assumed the center role at some point.

That would leave Greenway and Kunin opposite each other, which bodes well for both players.

“He knows where I’m at on the ice and we seem to work well together,” Kunin said. “I like what we’ve been doing out there.”

Like most players on the team, Greenway still thinks the Wild can surprise critics and make a playoff run if everything goes according to plan. In that case, Greenway will be ready, especially considering he played nearly 100 games last season between the NHL and AHL.

“It was definitely the most I’ve played in a season for sure,” Greenway said. “It was tiring. It was also exciting. To be in a playoff push like we were here was great, and then going to the Iowa Wild and playing in the playoffs was a great learning experience. I learned a lot from it in regards to the length and what I have to do to prepare for this season. It was kind of like I was preparing for this season all along.”

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