24-Year-Old Center – Minnesota Wild
Mikael Granlund Contract Information:
Re-signed with the Wild on a two-year, $6 million contract in July 2015.
Granlund posted two assists with a plus-2 rating, three shots on goal and a blocked shot in Saturday's 5-4 win against the Stars.
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Mikael Granlund: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
While his scoring may have ticked down slightly last season, Granlund is rounding into form as one of the best young players on the Wild. Granlund followed up a 41-point 2013-14 campaign with eight goals and 31 assists, but may have delivered more overall fantasy value this past season after his plus/minus rating rose from minus-3 to plus-17. The 23-year-old Finn should once again pivot the teamís first or second line, and with the Wild boasting solid wing depth, opportunities for assists should remain plentiful. It might be hard for Granlund to notice much further growth as a goal scorer, as he shot less than 1.5 times per game, preferring to set up quality looks for others. Moreover, despite seeing frequent power-play time, Granlund didnít pick up a single goal with the man advantage last season. Downgrade him in leagues that value more diverse scoring skills, as Granlund isn't expected to look for his own shot very often with several quality options around him.
It didn't just seem like Granlund got better with every game last season -- he actually did. He delivered an impressive 21 points in his last 25 games, which makes it hard to believe he wasn't guaranteed to make the roster at the start of last season. He's now the Wild's No. 2 center on the back of his solid season, which included an Olympic nod with the bronze-winning Finnish team and fantastic showing in the playoffs. Heís slated to skate with some combination of Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter and/or Charlie Coyle on the wing this season, which is about as fruitful as it gets for fantasy purposes. Granlund is a puck distributor who is going to helm the second-unit power play, if not climb his way into the top unit. He posted eight goals and 33 assists overall last season and there's every reason to believe he'll top the 50-point mark in 2014-15.
As a superstar in the Finnish Elite League and as the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Granlund entered last season as a favorite for rookie-of-the-year honors. However, his first season playing in North America didn't go as planned as he had just six points in his first 19 games and was sent to the AHL. He returned in April to play six games, but the Wild gave him a smaller role after he was centering a top-three line at the start of the year. Granlund didn't adjust well to the size and physical nature of the NHL and struggled with bad penalties and defensive lapses. He did score 28 points in 29 games in the AHL, so he showed he can produce outside of Sweden. However, he'll need to earn his role with the Wild and he could begin the season in the AHL. At age 21, it's still early enough in his career that he may figure out the NHL game and fulfill last year's hype.
The ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Granlund has played the the last three seasons in Finland and was a superstar in the Finnish Elite League. As a 19-year old he let the league in scoring for a second consecutive season. The Wild will put him on the second line to begin his NHL career, which could make him an early favorite for the Calder Memorial Trophy (for rookie of the year). He has great speed, puck handling skills and a knack for putting the puck in the net, but his size (5-10, 180 pounds) could be more of an issue in the NHL.
The Wild made Granlund a first-round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, snagging him with the ninth overall pick. Speed, playmaking ability and hockey smarts have all contributed to Granlund's billing as a top prospect, though naysayers are quick to point out his small size of 5-foot-8, 169 pounds. The Finn also dealt with a concussion, which wiped out roughly half of his 2010-11 campaign with HIFK Helsinki of the SM-liiga league. However, Granlund has managed 76 points (21 G, 55 A) in 82 games over the past two seasons overseas, and while it's not clear when he will make his NHL debut, opportunists should consider stashing him on keeper rosters in 2011-12.
The ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Granlund is the real deal. He played in Finlandís top league and averaged a point per game. More impressive: he was only 17 years old.