Said sugar make it slow
And we’ll come together fine
All we need is just a little patience
-Guns N’ Roses
The Wild are off to another rocky start. Long gone are the Jacques Lemaire days where 6-0 starts seemed a given. Of course the hope is that the Todd Richard’s system will lead to more wins at the end of the season when it matters most. While no Wild fan wants to sit through a repeat of last season there are reasons to hope. First, without a doubt this team is better than it was when Fletcher took over. No, not every move has been perfect (the Barker-Leddy trade at this point seems to be in Chicago’s favor) but the good far outweighs the bad. And, perhaps the biggest move that Fletcher has made for the teams future is the drafting of Mikael Granlund in the 1st round.
From reading Minnesota Wild fan’s response to the draft it seemed people were in two camps, they either loved this pick, or they think the Wild should have gone with the scouting rankings and picked Brandon Gormley or Cam Fowler. There is little need to convince the prior group as to how good this pick was so I will focus on the latter. No doubt Fowler making the Ducks will encourage the notion that the Wild should have drafted him because 1. he looks to make an impact now for the Ducks and 2. the Wild’s early struggles on defense. And, if the Wild have a repeat of last year seeing Fowler put up points for the hated Ducks, even if they are having an equally miserable season, will only pour salt on the imagined wound. But it shouldn’t, because the Wild drafted not only the best player available, but potentially one of the best players in the draft.
At only 18 years of age, Granlund has taken Finland by storm. The HIFK center is featured on a “dream line” with former NHLer Ville Peltonen that has been nothing short of successful. Through 11 games Granlund has 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points with all 3 goals coming on the power-play. But perhaps even more telling is that Peltonen (6+6) was named SM-Liiga player of the month for September and is currently tied for 1st in goals scored. But, will he be able to handle the play in the NHL? The evidence seems to indicate that he will. At 17 he was playing with the adults in the SM-Liiga. He is putting up better numbers than Mikko and Saku Koivu did at his age. And, he has no shortage of pressure being put on him as the next great Finnish talent and he seems to be handling it quite well.
So, while it would be easy to attack and condemn Fletcher for not picking the higher ranked Fowler, take solace in the fact the the Wild have a potential star on the way.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Brandon Gormley Cam Barker Cam Fowler Chuck Fletcher Finnish Elite League HIFK Jacques Lemaire Mikael Granlund Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild NHL Draft Nick Leddy Saku Koivu SM-Liiga Ville Peltonen