The Minnesota Wild made headlines over the summer with their big free agent signings of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but there is another newcomer to the team that is quietly making a name for himself as well. After three seasons in the top league in Finland, 2010 draft pick Mikael Granlund has come to North America, and is already showing he can contribute at the NHL level.
Granlund didn’t waste any time getting his first NHL goal, scoring on assists from Jared Spurgeon and Devin Setoguchi in the second period of the season opener against the Colorado Avalanche. He is one of just five players to have scored for the Wild so far, and he assisted on Tom Gilbert’s goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. Best known for his lacrosse-style goal for Finland in the 2011 World Championship, the youngster is showing he can quickly adapt to a smaller ice surface and be an offensive threat on Minnesota’s second line.
During the lockout, the Wild assigned Granlund to their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. In 21 games there, he scored eight goals and added 13 assists, which leaves him still ranked sixth in team scoring despite having been gone for almost two weeks now. Moving forward, it will be great for the team to have another offensive weapon to compliment Parise, Dany Heatley and a finally healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard. While the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko has grabbed most of the early-season Calder Trophy buzz, look for Granlund to at least make some waves in the conversation the rest of the season if he can continue to contribute for the Wild.