Colorado Avalanche Forward A.J. Greer Impressive in NHL Debut

Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche prospect A.J. Greer made his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins on Sunday night, and he looked impressive.

Unfortunately, the Colorado Avalanche lost to the Boston Bruins on Sunday night. However, Avs prospect A.J. Greer had a great showing in his NHL debut. He could end up being a factor if he stays up in the NHL.

Here’s a period by period look at his shifts, and some of the things he did well.

First period

Well, Greer started strong, noticeably impacting his line’s play on his first two shifts. He started his first shift with a good hit along the boards. And then later in that shift, he did a good job getting the puck out of his own zone and getting it deep.

On his second shift, he “blocked” a shot in his own zone, and then skated the puck up ice for a 2-on-1. He made a great drop pass to Carl Soderberg, who was able to get a good shot on net.

Unfortunately, he was on the ice for the only Boston goal. However, before the goal he was the first man forechecking in the neutral zone. And, he was the first forward back for Colorado too, as he tried to dive and keep David Krejci from scoring the goal.

In other words, Soderberg completely blew his man on that goal, and A.J. Greer did everything in his power to keep Boston from scoring.

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He was skating hard during every shift in the first period. And, he even went to the net once and got feisty with some Bruins’ players after the whistle.

Second Period

Greer was skating hard during the entire game really, and that continued into the second period. On his first shift, he was on Nathan MacKinnon’s line, and he ended the first period on that line as well.

I don’t really have anything to say on that, but it might be something to experiment with next game. Especially because Gabe Landeskog would be playing on a line with Soderberg again, which might help to even the scoring.

Anyway, Greer continued his strong play in the second as his line was constantly responsible for putting the best pressure on the Bruins.

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Greer was a beast on the back-check, on the forecheck, and he was moving his legs all night. He also showed some nice passing skills in the offensive zone, and showed an ability to find the open man on his line.

Furthermore, he was making nice simple plays, and just getting the puck to the front of the net. The Avs have had trouble scoring recently, and getting the puck to the net is the best way to break that streak.

Third Period

Greer was not as noticeable during the third period for whatever reason. The Avs did take a couple penalties in the third so the rhythm of line changes was thrown off a bit.

However, he did get a chance on the power play, and made another real smart and simple play by taking the puck strong to the net from the corner. He was also screening the goalie during the power play, which is not an easy job.

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Nonetheless, Greer figures to be a good candidate for that job because he is a big body. And, he even remarked himself — during the first intermission — that “big and physical play” is where he excels.

Other than that shift on the power play and more examples of his good skating, Greer didn’t do much during the third period. The entire team was a dud against the Bruins, but Greer at least showed some willingness to play hard on every shift.


Greer was called up to replace Matt Duchene in the lineup, so it is unclear how long he will stay with the Avalanche.

He’s obviously having a great year in San Antonio, as he leads all rookies in scoring to this point, and is tied for fourth in overall AHL scoring. So, it’s probably not a bad idea to send him back down when Duchene returns so that he can continue to develop in San Antonio.

However, he also showed an ability to hang in the NHL against the Bruins. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Avs keep him up for nine games — the max amount before his entry-level contract kicks in.

Head coach Jared Bednar was definitely impressed with Greer’s play. Here’s what he had to say in the postgame press conference about Greer:

"He’s had a good start down in San Antonio, he’s got some skill, he’s got some grit, he wants to go to the front of the net. He’s got good legs… Especially in his first game, I thought he was good."

Nonetheless, it appears that Duchy is on the mend, and could return as soon as Tuesday night against the L.A. Kings. In other words, Bednar said — in his post game presser — that Duchy would “be on the ice” for practice today.

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So, Greer’s days may be numbered. However, I would much rather see him in the lineup instead of say Cody McLeod. That would allow Rene Bourque to slide down the lineup, and for some line combinations of the following:

  • Mikko Rantanen Matt Duchene Nathan MacKinnon
  • Gabe Landeskog Carl Soderberg A.J. Greer
  • Andreas Martinsen Mikhail Grigorenko Rene Bourque
  • Joe Colborne John Mitchell Jarome Iginla

Anyway, there’s a bunch of different ways to figure Greer into the lineup. And, he would be a fun player to work around depending on line chemistry.

We’ll see how long he stays up here, but his days are probably limited with the appearance of Duchene returning soon. Nonetheless, his NHL debut was certainly impressive, and he may earn a spot with the big club because of it.