Alex Grenier’s eyes smiling on Canucks top o’ line

 

Prospect excited getting his shot in The Show, ecstatic to play alongside crafty Sedins

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Grenier (65) tries to stop Winnipeg Jets centre Alexander Burmistrov’s (not shown) shot from going past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Monday, March 14, 2016.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Grenier (65) tries to stop Winnipeg Jets centre Alexander Burmistrov’s (not shown) shot from going past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Monday, March 14, 2016.

Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Alexandre Grenier is not Irish, but on St. Patrick’s Day he was feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

Here he is, after a long journey through the minors, finally getting a chance to play in the National Hockey League. And get this, he’s playing on the Vancouver Canucks’ top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Grenier is so pumped that he’s even enjoying practice.

“Today at practice I was looking around and going, this is amazing,” Grenier said Thursday, sounding like a guy who’d found a four-leaf clover. “I could only dream about doing this when I was five and now I’m here. Even just being in practice was amazing for me today.”

Imagine how Grenier felt Wednesday, when he learned he would be playing that night with the Sedins. He figures to be with them again tonight when the Canucks meet the Oilers in Edmonton.

“Obviously, it makes the job so much easier for me playing with two guys like that,” Grenier said. “I played with them in the pre-season and even having that little bit of history to relate to was really good.

“As far as the game goes, it makes things a lot easier for me with how smart those guys are. You just have to read off them and know where to go. As you saw during the game, I was basically always in front of the net. Pucks were getting to me.”

Grenier, 24, was selected late in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Canucks. His hockey resume includes stints with three different Quebec league teams, part of a season in the Austrian League with Salzburg and a stop in the East Coast Hockey League. He has spent the past three seasons with Utica in the American Hockey League and had compiled 13 goals and 37 points in 57 games with the Comets before being recalled by the Canucks on Monday.

Tonight’s game will be his sixth in eight nights. Grenier’s not complaining.

“Everybody has their own path,” he said. “I have been through most every league. I have been to Europe, I have been in the East Coast, I have been in the American League, junior. I have been all over the place, so to finally get here is a bonus, icing on the cake.”

Grenier has good size. He stands 6-5 and weighs about 200 pounds. He regards himself as a power forward, who brings some offence and a physical presence.

He saw his first NHL action during a one-game recall for a Nov. 18 tilt in Winnipeg. Tonight will be NHL game No. 4 and he’s hoping to make an impression in advance of training camp next fall.

“I am just trying to prove what I can bring every game,” he said. “There’s not much time left this season to prove it but I am trying to use every advantage I have to show what I can do. Hopefully, they remember it coming into next year and all that stuff. It’s an ongoing process right now for me. I am not exactly with the team right now, I am filling a spot. My main goal is to make it next year.”

Grenier is one of a number of prospects on the current roster trying to make an impression. Forward Brendan Gaunce and defenceman Andrey Pedan are guys Grenier has played with all season in Utica.

Coach Willie Desjardins said he saw enough from Grenier to give him another opportunity with the Sedins.

“He is a smart player,” Desjardins said Thursday. “He is good offensively, he is good with the puck, he has got good size. I think his challenge is going to be how hard he works away from the puck and just his speed overall. He needs to probably get a little bit quicker for our game.”

Grenier has been trying to soak up all the advice he can get from the Sedins.

“They have been unbelievable to me,” he said. “Between every shift they are always giving me stick taps, saying ‘good job’ and telling me what to do if ever I am kind of lost.

“If I have any questions, I go to those guys. They are really nice people, really genuine.”

Henrik Sedin said he was impressed with Grenier’s game in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

“He played really good,” the Canucks’ captain said. “I liked the way he reads off me and Daniel. He was able to get to the spots when he needed to. You can tell that he understands what to do out there.”

bziemer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Grenier (65) tries to stop Winnipeg Jets centre Alexander Burmistrov’s (not shown) shot from going past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Monday, March 14, 2016.
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Grenier (65) tries to stop Winnipeg Jets centre Alexander Burmistrov’s (not shown) shot from going past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Monday, March 14, 2016.

Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Alexandre Grenier (65) tries to stop Winnipeg Jets centre Alexander Burmistrov’s (not shown) shot from going past Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Monday, March 14, 2016.
Alex Grenier of the Vancouver Canucks (right) battles with San Jose Shark Chris Tierney during an NHL pre-season game in Victoria on Sept. 21, 2015.
Andrey Pedan #29, Nikita Tryamkin #88, Daniel Sedin #22 and Alexandre Grenier #65 congratulate Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks who scored against the Colorado Avalanche during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 16, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Vancouver Canucks winger Alexandre Grenier (65) fights for control of the puck with Calgary Flames left wing Emile Poirier (28) during first period pre-season NHL action Vancouver, B.C. Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. The Vancouver Canucks have recalled right-wing Grenier from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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