Minnesota Wild Player Feature: Mikael Granlund


Known to many Wild fans as “Granny”, “Michael”, “Finnish Jesus”, or my personal favorite “Bruce” for this hilarious reason, first-line centre Mikael Granlund holds a place in fans’ hearts, and a coveted spot on the top line for Minnesota, a spot once held by Captain Mikko Koivu. The 23 year-old Oulu Finland native is a Restricted Free Agent come season’s end.

He’s responsible for some of the most memorable and exciting goals in Wild history in just two and a half years of playing in the NHL. He’s simply a playmaker, dishing out “Granny’s Apples” as they say. God I hate when they say that. When he shoots, he can score goals too. Who could forget his incredible solo effort to win game 3 of round one against the Avalanche last Spring? Or this dandy backhander to fake-out Chicago’s Corey Crawford in the second round.

Last year’s playoffs really highlighted what he can bring when the competition is elevated. His first post-season run saw him score 7 points (4G-3A) through 13GP with a +3 rating and 35 SOG (nearly 3 SOG/GM). 

His regular season last year was cut short due to a concussion. Despite missing 19 games, he still tallied 41 points (8G, 33A) a -3 and 104 SOG. This season however, has been a bit of a disappointment for the first line centre. With just 8 games remaining, Granlund’s registered just 33 points (7G, 26A) a nice +15, but a measily 84 SOG (barely over a single SOG/GM). Again, this year he’s missed 14 games due to a second concussion in as many seasons.

More from Gone Puck Wild

Yea yea, he’s a playmaker first, goal-scorer second. The point is, refer to his playoff production above from last year when he was shooting the puck himself and compare that to this season’s effort. Forgive me for craving more from our number one centre playing in between the likes of Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. Let us lay off #20in15 Vanek for a bit, and focus in on the guys whose development in my opinion should probably have shown more this season than last.

Andy takes a look at how Mikael and brother Markus Granlund could face-off in tonights Wild/Flames tilt at the X. This is relevant due to Granny dropping down to the second line in the third period and Mikko jump to the first Tuesday night vs. the Isles. He simply hasn’t impressed as of late. Soft skating, weak passes and turnovers has plagued him recently. Have the consecutive seasons with concussions effected his game? Has he been skating more cautiously out there? You can’t blame him if that’s the case and no one really knows for sure, but if so, should Minnesota think about not re-signing him at all? Or, (and this is the route I’d take) sign him to a Jason Zucker style two-year contract this Summer, and trade him next season if the results are the same. He’s still only 23, and some guys take longer to develop fully than others. Since I mentioned a trade or release…

Who Could Replace Granlund?

How about a Tyler Bozak? Toronto is looking to dump or trade some of the pieces they thought would make the Leafs a contender. Bozak has produced more than Granlund if you look at side by side stats over the last two years. A fresh start is what each player could use. Yes, many Leaf players are looked at as tainted now leaving a toxic environment and moving in to any new locker room, but the same was said about Chris Stewart after the trade from Buffalo. Thus far, Stew has fit in nicely. Good enough in fact that many fans would like to see him return next year. With a guy like Bozak, you still get a 29 year old with upside and someone rejuvenated to play on a team like the Wild.

What Do You Think?

Is it too early to question Mikael’s future in Minnesota? Has he met expectations? Is management gambling if they choose to re-sign Granlund this summer? Are his highlight reel goals too few and far between? Or does he serve a more important role with the Wild, one that is part of a bigger plan in years to come?

If the Wild make the playoffs, and it looks like they will, let’s see what “Magic Mike” has in store this post-season. A post-season coming at the tail end of Mikael’s initial contract with Minnesota. I don’t want to jump off of the Finnish freight too soon, but how much longer I have, I’m not too sure.

Next: Minnesota Wild Look To Reassert Home Ice Dominance

More from Gone Puck Wild