Two years ago, Jordan Greenway signed a prove-it contract to remain with the Wild after a candid heart-to-heart with General Manager Bill Guerin.
Now, he's locked into the core of the team after receiving a three-year, $9 million contract extension on Monday that kicks in next season and runs through 2024-25.
"Jordan's proven that he's got character. He's got guts. He can rise to a challenge," Guerin said on a Zoom call with reporters. "We did have a tough conversation a couple of years ago and since then, Jordan's done nothing but work on himself and try to improve and that's how we got here.
"The credit goes to Jordan."
This deal came together in the past two weeks, but signs both sides were destined to stick together can be traced back to last season.
After taking a two-year, $4.2 million contract following that conference with Guerin in the 2020 offseason, when Guerin told Greenway he wanted to see improvement from the 6-6, 231-pound winger, Greenway responded with a career year.
Not only did he lead the Wild in assists (26) while establishing a personal best in points (32), but he started to regularly leverage his size and strength — particularly along the boards — as one-third of the team's most consistent line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno.
That's not how Greenway played growing up.
A second-round pick taken 50th overall by the Wild in 2015, Greenway was a goal scorer at Boston University. In the NHL, though, the 24-year-old has had to adapt his style since he's most effective when he combines his mobility and vision with an edge.
"It's not a curse," Guerin said. "It's a gift to be able to play both ways. You can play a skilled game and a physical game. The sooner you embrace that, the better you'll be."
Greenway has reunited this season with Eriksson Ek and Foligno and although the decision to re-sign him wasn't solely motivated by the opportunity to keep the trio intact, Guerin said the three have helped shape the team's identity.
Still, this extension is very much indicative of Greenway, who was set to become a restricted free agent after the season. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause of eight teams Greenway can't be traded to in Year 3.
"We've seen a growth in Jordan over the last couple years that we feel will continue and Jordan will keep getting better and better," said Guerin, who mentioned the team has noticed a shift in Greenway's focus and approach and that he's become more professional. "This is a place he's expressed that he's comfortable. He wants to be here. He believes in what he's doing, and we believe in Jordan and the direction that he's going."
Through 33 games, Greenway has four goals and nine assists and is a plus-17.
Although Guerin believes Greenway could be a 20-goal scorer, a jump in production that would require him to shoot the puck more frequently, what the Wild also values are his intangibles.
"Jordan brings something to the dressing room that nobody else brings, and that's just his personality," Guerin said. "The guys really love him, and he fits really well here and that's important. The chemistry of the team is extremely important, and Jordan is a big part of that."