By Dave Turner
So here’s the deal. In the days leading up to training camp and the season, we’re going to take a look at each player on the roster and discuss their play from last year, what their role will be like this season, and what we can expect.
It’ll be at random, so check back every day around 2 p.m. for a new player.
#6- Andy Greene- Defenseman
2013 Season Stats
Games played: 48
Average Time on ice: 23:01
Points: 16 (4g, 12a)
Season Grade: A-
Simply put, Andy Greene was the Devils best defenseman last season and his numbers speak to that. During a season in which many of the Devils defensemen struggled, Greene was always a model of consistency. He led the Devils d-corps in average time on ice, with 23:01 minutes per game. He ranked second overall for time on ice, with only Ilya Kovalchuk averaging more ice time.
Greene has excellent balance to his game, playing a sound defensive game, but also possessing the ability to make a nice breakout pass when needed. He averaged so much ice time, because the team was better with him out there. With the struggles of Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder and even Bryce Salvador, to an extent, Greene needed to play well for this team, and he did.
What I like most about his play is his ability to lock down the defensive zone, not by hitting and not by taking chances, but with sound positioning. To me, that is the sign of a good defender.
Greene has an excellent ability to make a play in the defensive end and turn it into a nice breakout pass the other way. For a team like the Devils that is going to be offensively challenged yet again this year, this sort of transitional hockey will be paramount to their success in the offensive end.
He plays such an under-the-radar sort of game, because he doesn’t have a true M.O. He’s not that big, at a generously listed 5’11,” and his offensive game doesn’t warrant a ton of power-play time, so his offensive numbers aren’t outstanding. Adversely, Greene doesn’t do anything SO well that he can lean on that merit alone, so he has to play a well-rounded game.
I always say that a great defensive-defenseman is one who is almost invisible on the ice. You don’t realize what he’s doing, because teams aren’t scoring at his expense, and that’s what he does.
The Devils will be counting on #6 to reproduce his success from last season. As a sign of the kind of leadership that Greene provides, he was seen wearing an “A” on his sweater during the Outdoor Series press conference. Though it’s not confirmed, with the sort of lead-by-example attitude that he possesses, he seems like a nice fit for the other letter, vacated by Kovalchuk.
In 2009-2010, when the Trenton, Michigan native had 37 points (6g, 31a), many were expecting Greene to be someone who may have 40-plus point potential. Though that’s probably not the case, he certainly does have 30-plus point upside. His 16 points in 48 games last year translates into 27 points in an 82-game season. If he’s able to tally something close to 30 points, that’s a really nice year for him.
Something else that shouldn’t go overlooked is that Greene played all 48 games last season. Going into the season, health certainly shouldn’t be an issue, and quite frankly, the Devils need him to be out there for as close to 82 games as possible, if they’re going to be successful.
I’m going to say eight goals and 25 assists for the Michigan native, for a total of 33 points.
In terms of plus/minus, I expect him to be on the plus side once again, though, that’s a number thats far too abstract to predict.
Whether he’s partnered with someone like Adam Larsson, or even Bryce Salvador (whom I always thought he looked best with), Greene is a top-pairing player for this team. It’ll mean bigger minutes and possibly even some power-play time in the new look man-advantage this season.
Andy Greene proved his worth in 2013, and now it’ll be time for him to log major minutes and become a cornerstone of the defense.