Feb 24, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT
Of all the players that improved their stock at the Olympics, few had a bigger spike than Mikael Granlund.
The Minnesota sophomore was nothing short of fantastic for bronze medal-winning Finland, finishing with seven points in six games while averaging over 18 minutes a night, earning him a spot on the tournament all-star team.
Granlund’s teammate, tourney MVP Teemu Selanne, showered the youngster with praise.
“He’s going to have a great career ahead,” Selanne said, per the Pioneer Press. “This is Granlund’s business card for the world to show that he is hungry and can’t wait to get out there.”
At the tender age of 21, Granlund was put in an unenviable position heading into the Olympics, left to shoulder Finland’s No. 1 center gig after the team lost Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula to injury. Granlund didn’t just accept the gig — he thrived, leading the Finnish team in scoring while doing a fantastic job in the faceoff circle (he won 61.5 percent of his draws in the bronze medal win over the U.S.)
Granlund, though, didn’t see the performance as a huge surprise.
“I’ve been feeling good and playing with confidence for awhile (even) before the tournament,” he explained. “I just need to keep going and get better.”
The young Finn promises to be a key figure for the Wild post-Olympic break. Minnesota will re-enter play holding the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference, but faces a killer stretch starting mid-March — Minnesota plays eight of 10 on the road with dates in Boston, Long Island, New Jersey, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago.
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