And The #1 Prospect Is...
Posted by Nathan Wells on Monday, August 29, 2011
(Photo courtesy of The Scouting Report)
Center/Wing 5'10" 180 lbs
HIFK (SM-Liiga) 8 Goals 28 Assists in 39 games
No surprise here, Mikael Granlund is the top Minnesota Wild prospect chosen by First Round Bust and any group of Wild fans . Heck, he might be the best prospect in Wild history.
That last sentence might be hyperbole but there is truth in the statement. We're talking about a Wild prospect who has set the internet on fire with shootout goals, lacrosse goals and even gotten his stamp. Who else has come close to that? Sure that might be because most Minnesota blue chippers (and some not-so-blue chippers) have spent their teenage years in the State of Hockey but for a team who has missed the postseason three straight seasons, the name Mikael Granlund signifies hope.
Granlund's latest shootout masterpiece this weekend for HIFK...
Besides the flash, Granlund can play hockey at a high level. The Finnish Elite League is no picnic as the third-toughest league in Europe (it's a man's league) and Mikael helped lead HIFK to a championship as a 19 year-old; being named the playoff MVP and leading it in scoring. Granlund also came close to his second PPG performance in two seasons despite being moved to center after spending last season as a winger. To put those numbers in perspective, the only player in recent history who has put up close to a PPG performance in their draft year was Olli Jokinen. Even Teemu Selanne and Mikko Koivu put up two and one point, respectively, in SM-Liiga their draft year.
Also, while most top prospects are judged by their U-20 WJC performance, Granlund was playing in the top-six for the gold medal-winning Finnish World Championship team. Throw in his creative playmaking, Datsyuk-like dangling skills, good shot and the fact he looks to make others better and, putting it mildly, this is a prospect who is men amongst boys.
The only negatives about Granlund is that he is spending this season in Finland despite Mikko Koivu's attempts and so much of the Wild's future depends on him. If he busts (and it's not like he is above having a bad game or two, which happened in the above video's game) or gets injured (which happened last season as Granlund missed 21 games with a concussion), Minnesota will noticeably take a step back.
Then again, he's the best. Deal with it.