Wild considers keeping Jordan Greenway at center
During the first days of training camp, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau revealed he is “seriously considering’’ moving forward Jordan Greenway to center from his usual spot at right wing. Though the big rookie is still getting a feel for a new position at the NHL level, Boudreau liked what he saw Monday as Greenway centered a line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Charlie Coyle in the Wild’s 2-1 preseason loss at Winnipeg.
The 6-6, 226-pound Greenway thrived at center last season with the U.S. Olympic team and at Boston University. Against the Jets, he finished with three shots on goal, one hit and one blocked shot in nearly 19 minutes of ice time. The Greenway line combined for 10 shots and anchored the first power-play unit.
The only thing Boudreau didn’t like was Greenway’s work in the faceoff circle, where he won only two of seven draws.
“He looked OK,’’ Boudreau said after Tuesday’s practice at TRIA Rink. “We’ve got a little bit of work to do on the faceoffs, but other than that, I thought he did really well.’’
There are not many NHL centers with Greenway’s size and playmaking ability, which prompted Boudreau to consider the switch. Greenway’s coach at Boston University, David Quinn, lauded his intelligence and two-way play at the position. Boudreau didn’t see any downside to trying out the change in camp, given that Eriksson Ek could easily slide back to center if necessary.
While Greenway noted he has much to learn about playing center in the NHL — and, unlike college, almost no room for error — he thinks the position suits him well.
“It’s good for me,’’ he said. “I played center a lot last year. I felt more comfortable. I have a little bit more of a role. It keeps me involved.
“I like it a lot. But either [position], I’m fine with. Whatever helps the team out the most.’’
On Tuesday, the Wild practiced at its new facility, TRIA Rink, for the first time since training camp started. The team has not fully moved in to its new practice home; players dressed at Xcel Energy Center, then drove the few blocks to Treasure Island Center, where TRIA Rink occupies the top floor.
Players said the ice was excellent, and they raved about the posh players’ lounge and the oval-shaped locker room with the logo on the ceiling.
“I got in here last week for the first time, and it felt more like a country club than a training facility,’’ forward Justin Kloos said. “It’s just beautiful. You want to work your way up [to the NHL roster] just so you can live this out every day.’’
The Wild plays St. Louis on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, home to the Iowa Wild, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. Boudreau will look at a new batch of players in the second preseason game, assembling a roster with roughly the same proportion of NHL veterans he used against Winnipeg.
“I thought we played a good game [Monday],’’ he said. “The identity of what we want in our team, as a really hardworking team, was really evident.’’
• The Wild trimmed its training camp roster to 52 players Tuesday. Goaltender Dereck Baribeau will return to Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Forward Ivan Lodnia is headed to Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League, and forward Connor Dewar will return to Everett of the Western Hockey League.
• Boudreau gave a day off Tuesday to most of the 19 players who played at Winnipeg, including “a couple guys hurting a little bit.’’ He wasn’t surprised by the soreness after starting the preseason schedule against a muscular team like the Jets.
“That usually happens when you play teams that get to be a little physical,’’ he said. “It’s the first real test, a lot of times, in the last four months. So you get the aches and pains.’’