The University of Maine received great news today in the form of a commitment from a top prospect. J.D. Greenway, brother to Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Greenway and a 2016 third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is set to join the Black Bears. Greenway’s current team, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, announced that the big defenseman has decided to return to school next season.
Greenway’s development has come with its fair share of twists and turns thus far. The 20-year-old grew into his 6’4″ frame early on and gained the reputation of a being a hulking defender with composure and checking ability beyond his years, along with an offensive touch. In two seasons with the U.S. National Development Program, Greenway was a constant presence both on the ice and the score sheet. He joined the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 2016-17 with high expectations, but had a difficult time transitioning his game to the college level. While he received the benefit of the doubt as a highly-recruited freshman, he didn’t enjoy that same benefit in year two when his problems persisted and he lost ice time and trust of the coaching staff. Greenway made the decision to leave school and re-evaluate his plans this season, which has proved wise so far. In 17 games with Dubuque, Greenway leads all defensemen in points, power play production, and shots, looking comfortable as an offensive asset again.
As a result, Greenway’s stock was back on the rise among college programs and UMaine is the lucky winner. This is a major addition for the Black Bears, who get Greenway for two seasons beginning next year. The team currently rosters only three other NHL draft picks – starting goaltender Jeremy Swayman (BOS, 4th rd. ’17) and forwards Chase Pearson (DET, 5th rd. ’15) and Patrick Shea (FLA, 7th rd. ’15) – and have not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. With all three of these players and last year’s top scorer, Mitchell Fossier, expected to return next season, as well as the additions of Greenway and the likes of Brad Morrissey and Brady Gaudette, Maine could take a big step forward in 2019-20.
The Maple Leafs will be also happy to see Greenway back in the college ranks improving his game, as the young defenseman brings a Dustin Byfuglien-type style that the team would love to one day see flourish on their blue line. Oftentimes issues with a college program are too quickly labeled as a shortcoming of the player, but in the case of Greenway, he is certainly still considered a solid NHL prospect who should outperform his Wisconsin production once he arrives in Orono next year.