By: Joe Travia | Follow me on Twitter @NHLJoeTravia
When General Manager Don Sweeney announced the team’s free agent signings on July 1st, 2022, hardly anyone batted an eyelash. While players like Keith Kinkaid (167 games), Vinni Lettieri (82), A.J. Greer (47), and Connor Carrick (241) had NHL experience, they were seen mainly as depth pieces who would spend the year in Providence and only be called upon in Boston should the injury bug strikes. It appears that Greer had different plans, however.
Greer has been a revelation through the early part of training camp and the first two preseason games. The 6’3″, 210-pound Greer plays the type of game that will make him a fan favorite at TD Garden should he make the team. He is fast, hits everything in sight, and is not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary. In the Bruins first preseason, Greer announced his presence by coming to the defense of teammate Josiah Didier, taking on the Flyers Hayden Hodgson in a spirited bout.
In the second preseason game against the Rangers, Greer was everywhere. Playing on a line with Jack Studnicka and Marc McLaughlin, Greer finished the night with two goals, one of which was the overtime winner, five shots on goal, and a team-high seven hits. His first goal was especially impressive, as he displayed a good scorers touch to roof one over old friend Jaroslav Halak’s glove in tight. The overtime winner showcased Greer’s heavy shot, which observers of training camp have noted during team practices.
While Greer has not yet seen much NHL success, it is important to note that he was once a highly regarded prospect. After his freshman season at Boston University, the Colorado Avalanche selected Greer in the second round with the 39th overall pick. While he showed enough promise in his first year as a professional to earn five games in Colorado during the 2016-2017 season, Greer struggled to find his footing at the NHL level. To date, he has only suited up in 47 NHL games, scoring eight points.
While his NHL numbers to date have been underwhelming, the 25-year-old Greer is showing signs of being a late bloomer. He had 52 points and 102 penalty minutes in 53 games in the AHL for the Utica Comets last season and followed that up with six goals in five playoff games. Much like fellow 2015-draftee Jakub Zboril, who was excellent in the first preseason game against the Flyers, it appears that Greer is finally starting to put it all together.
It is no secret that the Bruins have lacked a consistent identity in their bottom six in recent years. They’ve lacked the scoring depth, energy, and physicality they had come to rely on when they went to three Stanley Cup Finals from 2011-2019. Guys like Trent Frederic were drafted to fill that void, but despite some flashes of potential, he goes long stretches of being invisible. Nick Foligno was brought in on a two-year contract worth $3.8 million per year to help the bottom six, but his first year was a disaster. If Greer can finish the preseason the way he’s started it, Head Coach Jim Montgomery will have no choice but to give him a chance.