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Selanne: Olympics were Granlund’s ‘business card’ to show the world

Feb 24, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT

SelanneGranlund Getty Images

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.

  1. sknut - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    He has been such a different player this year, versus last year. He really took to heart what he needed to do to improve and has done it. It was fun to see him shine in the Olympics and his confidence must be sky-high at this point. He is going to be a very good player for a long time for the Wild.

  2. purpleguy - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    He’s had a great year for the Wild so far — unfortunately, however, NHL rinks don’t have the same amount of ice as the Olympic ice sheet which plays to his strengths.

  3. guitarhunterdude - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    He was certainly on a hot streak before the Olympics, playing with Parise and Pominville. That said, he’s still got a good way to go before he’s a #1 center. In particular he needs to get stronger on the puck and better at keeping it in the offensive zone, and I’d like him to get a bit better in the faceoff dot. His puck skills are absolutely sick, but his possession numbers are still lacking and his faceoff% is middling. With possession monsters in Parise and Koivu (and Koivu’s faceoff prowess) there for him to learn from, I think he’ll be a legit top-line guy within the next two or three years. I don’t expect another jump like the one he had going into this year, but I could see him being a 75-point, 20-goal top-line guy with Parise and Pominville in a couple years.

    • guitarhunterdude - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      As an addendum to my previous comment, I’d like to say that if Granlund works on his release, he’ll be much more effective than he is now. He’s got a decent shot, and it was on full display in the Olympics, but it takes forever for him to get it off, so he can’t shoot as much on the smaller NHL surface. If he can take more shots, that’ll not only help him (and his possession numbers), it’ll open up his linemates more as well.

  4. nvandy42 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Granny has been my choice for the #2 center spot on the Wild since before the season. I love Coyle, but Granlund is so natural. Think of our potential top 3 lines next year if things work how a lot of people are saying they should…

    Parise-Koivu-Coyle
    Vanek-Granlund-Pominville
    Cooke-Brodziak-Neidereiter

    Pretty exciting… I’d even consider trading Koivu for a stud defenseman and play Coyle with Parise and Nino.

    Thoughts?

    • guitarhunterdude - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      We don’t need a stud defenseman, and we can’t afford to lose Koivu right now. Suter-Brodin is an excellent top pairing, and Scandella-Spurgeon has been great this year as well. The only defenseman I’d really want to replace is Ballard, and we wouldn’t need to trade Koivu to do that.

      Coyle hasn’t looked like a top-six player this year (outside of preseason); I’d switch him and Nino around. And it might be overreaction, but I really liked what Parise-Granlund-Pominville brought to the table. I’d switch Parise and Vanek in your scenario.

    • purpleguy - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      Is Brodziak under contract next year? He’s always positioned well, but his shot (or lack thereof) is turning my hair grey.

      • guitarhunterdude - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        I’m pretty sure he is. I say keep Brodz on, however unpopular that opinion may be. He’s shooting at roughly half his career percentage right now; that’ll rebound. He’s a darn good defensive center and, even though he doesn’t have touch (AT ALL), generating breakaways like he and Cooke do is basically just gravy when it’s coming from a defense-only line. With Haula hopefully stepping into a third-line scoring role next year, Brodziak would be a great fourth-line shutdown center.

  5. strictlythedanks - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Teemu is spot on

  6. rebekah319 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Teemu knows best! Go back to a year ago when every single wild fan was picking on Granlund or saying that he could not handle the NHL.. well look at him this year? What a difference a year and some patience will get you. He has taken major strides in his development and will only get better and better as time goes on. He has had success at every level he has played at so I was not shocked by what he has been doing this season. Its been so much fun to watch just wish Wild fans would have realized you had to be patient with him and it would come.

  7. JB (the original) - Feb 25, 2014 at 4:14 AM

    I love his game, and the Olympics were the best spot to show it off, without worry of the brute physicality of the NHL’s Western Conference beating him down. I think last year with the Wild, he looked like he was following the leaders, and passing off much more, ie; deferring to the veterans on the team, almost like he felt like he wouldn’t be liked for showing off his talent. I hope he can get a little more meat on his bones and stay healthy. He’s already had a few concussions and lost some time to them this year. Kind of makes one cringe every time he gets flattened against the boards, because the kid does play hard, I just hope he can hold up over time.

  8. thesublimeylimey - Feb 26, 2014 at 6:34 AM

    Granlund is immensely talented, quick, and hard working. He thoroughly impressed me during the tournament.

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