|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.
I'm here to tell you why he won't fail as an NHLer.
He is Really Freaking Smart:
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.