Why Mikael Granlund WON'T Fail: A Rebuttal

Normally I wouldn't do something like this, but considering that the news considering the lockout has become mundane and aggravating, and that we're nearing the end of our Top 20 list, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures.

You're doing what now? (Touko Yrttimaa)


Friend of FRB Daniel Chan wrote a piece over at Hockey Wilderness detailing why Mikael Granlund will fail at the NHL level. It was an interesting concept- Granlund is by and large seen as not just Minnesota's top prospect, but one of the best in the world; so the notion that he could end up being a bust is intriguing.

BUT...

I'm here to tell you why he won't fail as an NHLer.


He is Really Freaking Smart:

Ok, he isn't Charlie Coyle sized. But he's listed at a reputable 5'10" 180 Pounds on the Official Minnesota Wild website, so that's about as legitimate a measurement you'll get. Nor is he a true blazer, like Marian Gaborik was. But that is not his calling card; he is essentially a mental Colossus despite not being the biggest guy or fastest guy on the ice. When you have a player who has exceptional hockey sense, they are able to succeed by out thinking their competition. And Granlund has it in droves- the poise, the vision, the ability to be in the right spots at the right times instinctively, seeing things before they appear- that sort of mental capacity will allow him to be economical and crafty in the more physical North American brand of hockey. He skates well enough, and whose to say that it won't improve with more maturity and training?

 He's already dominated a league filled with players older, stronger, faster, and bigger...and he's just 20. Why wouldn't he be able to do it in the NHL? Its a matter of adjusting to the pace of play- and I think he'll be fine playing in smaller rinks. His SM-Liiga stats would have been equal to 16 goals, 31 assists in an 82 Game NHL Season last year.

You could make the argument that no one ever drafted in the history of the Minnesota Wild has such outstanding hockey sense, maybe aside from Defenseman Jonas Brodin.

He Doesn't Fear Physicality:

Finns typical play a grittier style of game; Mikael Granlund is no exception. Now, he's not Cal Clutterbuck, but he's no Pierre-Marc Bouchard either. Its not like he's never had a 6'4" 225 pound defenseman lean on him before. In fact, a tight checking game may feed into the competitive brand of hockey he plays, making him an even more dangerous player.

He Won't Have To Be "The Guy"...Right Away:
Assuming they actually play a season, he looks to be the only Rookie considered a lock for the roster. A roster, by the way, that will feature Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Cullen, and possibly Pierre-Marc Bouchard; all of whom are veterans with top-6 minute capabilities- so Mike Yeo will have the luxury of playing Granlund in sheltered minutes or prime situations where he can succeed (i.e. power plays) to start until the proverbial transmission "drops into gear" and he gets "it." Its really a sort of ready-made situation, and he will have many of those guys listed ahead of him there to mentor him to the daily grind of the NHL.

Remember, he's a freaking rock star back in Finland, with his personal life splashed across media outlets and photographers in the bushes looking to see what sort of soda he prefers- he likely won't get that here, but just being able to handle that sort of over-the-top attention at the age of 20 says something about his character.

He's no Benoit Pouliot. And that's why he'll make it.


5 comments:

  1. My #1 would be his success at such a young age. Typically the better you are the younger you are, the higher your ceiling. He also seems to quickly acclimate himself to better competition which is another trait of very successful high end players. Especially since he won't have to jump from the Finnish league right to the NHL but with a layover in the AHL. That's kind of the opposite of being "rushed".

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    1. The layover in the AHL will be HUGE for every single one of our prospects. Look what it did for Burns, PMB, and Koivu during the...errr...last lockout.

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  2. At the risk of being crucified, I'll say this. As much as I want an NHL season immediately, it's nice for Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Brodin, Phillips, Larsson, Bulmer, Cuma and the others to have this time to develop and grow together as a team.

    If we're forced to scrap this year's NHL season, you could see any number of these guys (perhaps even the Aeros whole top line) force their way onto the Wild roster next season because they deserve it. I'm especially intrigued to see how Zucker-Granlund-Coyle, the Aero's defense and Hackett and Kuemper fare against the possibility of playing Hall-RNH-Eberle and the OKC Barons regularly for the whole season. Could be an exciting AHL season!

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  3. Solid argumentation. I'm confident Granlund will succeed in the big league, he is just too talented and driven not to make it.

    "In fact, a tight checking game may feed into the competitive brand of hockey he plays, making him an even more dangerous player."

    This is an interesting point and one I didn't think about before, but yes, I can see that happen actually. Add to that his stickhandling skills and it might very well make him an even more dangerous player.


    "Remember, he's a freaking rock star back in Finland, with his personal life splashed across media outlets and photographers in the bushes looking to see what sort of soda he prefers- he likely won't get that here, but just being able to handle that sort of over-the-top attention at the age of 20 says something about his character."

    Absolutely. He is a true household name over here, the kind that even your granny knows who you are talking about. He has handled it amazingly well, especially considering his age. Also, his last season was up and down with the domination in the first part and then struggling and falling ill in the second part. All this time he was under an intense scrutiny, an experience that for sure has strengthened him for the future. I truly think his mental capabilities are his biggest strength, ranging from hockey sense to that passion for hockey and a consuming drive to become the best he can be.

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  4. Dan, you've been sitting on this piece waiting for MG to drop a 4-spot on somebody to release it. . . ADMIT! ;)

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