Getting to Know the Draft Picks: Volume 5 – James Greenway

At pick 62, the Leafs solved their longing need for goalie depth in the system by taking goaltender Joseph Woll. Their currently prospect goalies in Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau haven't proven anything at the NHL level and newly-signed Finn Kasimir Kaskisuo is a wildcard at this point. After the Woll pick, they had officially drafted three forwards and one goalie. They had yet to select a single defenseman, but ten picks later at 72nd overall, they filled that need by selecting defenseman James Greenway out of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Greenway is a big bodied defenseman who had a solid season for the U.S National Team Develop Program, putting up 28 points in 64 games. He also stood out playing for the USNTDP Juniors of the USHL with 10 points in 25 games. These may not look like outstanding totals, but he's got a very reliable defensive game to compliment outstanding skating for his hulking size at 6'5 and 214lbs. He was also used in a reliable top pairing role at the U18 World Juniors for Team USA. He responded highly to this, putting up seven points in seven games including this highlight reel goal.

So what are the Leafs getting with drafting Greenway? I'll tell you. They're getting a reliable, big defenseman who is good in every aspect of the game. One of the most attractive aspects to his game is his skating, which is surprising. Usually big bodied defenseman are below average skaters, but Greenway's agility and mobility on the ice along with his ability to protect the puck makes him a valuable defenseman to have on your team. He has a hard shot and soft hands to go along with it, again, despite his size. His hands are shown in this penalty shot goal from Leafs' development camp below.

NHL COMPARABLE: Colton Parayko

It's difficult to make this judgement because truthfully, there aren't too many NHL defensemen who are tall, elite skaters, but Parayko fits the bill best. It's unlikely that Greenway reaches the level that Parayko will, but anything could happen. They're both elite skaters for their size and have the ability to play both powerplay and penalty kill. If Greenway's development progresses smoothly, he could end up being a solid top four defenseman for the Leafs.

NHL ETA: 2019-20

Greenway is committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season, meaning he has four years before the Leafs must sign him to an entry level contract. The Leafs will either let him play out his entire college career at U of Wisconsin, or, depending on his performance, they'll sign him earlier and have him continue his development in the AHL. If Greenway progresses the way he's expected to, then he should be in the NHL by 2019-20.

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