After the Minnesota Wild were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in Round One of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, top prospect Mikael Granlund headed overseas to reinforce Finland’s run at the World Championships. Playing in the final four of 10 games played by Finland in the 2013 Men’s IIHF World Championship Tournament, Granlund scored a goal and two assists for three points in leading his country to fourth place in the tournament. In 23 career Men’s World Championship games, Granlund has been exceptional, scoring four goals and 13 assists for 17 points and a plus-3 rating.
Considered the Minnesota Wild’s top prospect heading into last season, the 9th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft scored in his NHL debut, then seemed to struggle for the rest of the season as other youngsters like Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin seemed to pass him on the top prospect list. Part of the reason is that Granlund’s game particularly shines on the European/International level, considering the size of the ice rink. His vision, passing and hockey I.Q. are ideally suited for the larger Olympic-sized rink.
The playoff-like intensity of a lockout-shortened season is no time to break a prospect into the North American style of game. With a year of NA pro hockey under his belt, “Granny” should be much more prepared for next season and gives Minnesota another top-6 forward option with the almost guaranteed departure of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and the possible departure of Matt Cullen.