Alexandre Grenier checks in as the 18th ranked prospect in our consensus rankings of the Canucks’ prospect pool.
At the start of last season, Grenier was ranked eighth. That was on the heels of a 2014-15 season which saw Grenier make significant strides as a key contributor for the Utica Comets in their Calder Cup season. Though Grenier failed to parlay that success into a full-time role at the NHL level, he continued to earn the trust of Comets head coach, Travis Green, and was dealt first line minutes with the club last season.
Grenier’s year had some major up-and-down swings. He made his NHL debut in November but was almost immediately sent back down to the AHL. In January, Grenier failed to register a single point and was sitting at just 19 points in 40 AHL games.
There were concerns that Grenier was moving away from the power forward style of play that saw him be so successful. Those concerns dulled, as Grenier went on to record 29 points in 29 games down the stretch, to finish the season with 48 in 69 games played. In the midst of that hot streak, Grenier received his second NHL call-up of the season and played another five games for the Canucks. He was held pointless but looked the part of an NHL player.
When one takes a qualitative glance at Grenier’s game, his smarts and offensive skills jump out especially. Grenier is at his most effective when he uses his big frame to create space and provide his linemates with an outlet pass. In terms of areas he’ll need to improve upon, Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins remarked upon his needing to get quicker and improve on his play away from the puck.
Another factor working against Grenier is time. He’s 24-years-old, requires waivers next season and on a one-year contract. For a player entering his prime physical years, you’d expect him to have made significant strides, but that wasn’t the case at the NHL level last season.
With the additions of Loui Eriksson and Anton Rodin on the right wing, Grenier will likely be battling in camp with Brendan Gaunce and Jake Virtanen for the 13th forward spot. Should Grenier find himself in the AHL to start the year, he is less likely to be called up than both Gaunce and Virtanen due to the fact he requires waivers.
Using pGPS, 15.6% of Grenier’s comparables went on to become NHL regulars. Given all of the aforementioned factors, this is likely his last shot at becoming an everyday NHL’er, especially with the Canucks.
If Grenier finds himself in the AHL, he will be a solid top six forward in Utica. It is always good to have depth and have players to help the younger prospects transition to the pro game, and Grenier will help do that if he is in the AHL.
Time is running out for Grenier, and it will be interesting to see if he can impress enough at training camp in September to secure a spot in the NHL.