#9. Mikael Granlund | C | HIFK (SM-Liiga)
Date of Birth: February 26th, 1992 Height: 5.10 Weight: 176lbs. Shoots: L Season Statistics: Regular Season | 25GP 39G 34A 73P 38PIM Playoffs | n/a TSR Midterm Rank: 9 | Position Rank: 6th Forwards League Rank: 1st SM-Liiga | Country Rank: 1st Finland
With an absence of high end prospects coming out of Finland in recent years, there has been quite a bit of pressure on Mikael Granlund to live up to the high praise he has received over the past couple of seasons. After really breaking onto the scene back in 2007/2008, Granlund has shouldered the hopes of Finnish prospects, especially given his countryman Teemu Pulkkinen’s rapid demise in the draft rankings this year.
Granlund is an intriguing prospect to be sure, as he is one of the most creative players in the crop, but his lack of size and strength have been a major detractor for many. Standing at only 5’10”, 179lbs, Granlund’s lack of size is a concern for any player trying to make the jump to the NHL. Further adding to the problem is his average skating ability. While he is by no means a poor skater, his quickness needs a lot of improvement especially considering the fact that he is an undersized player.
With that being said, it’s pretty easy to disseminate that Granlund is going to be a bit of a risky pick, a boom or bust type label, if you will. There will certainly be a big risk that he might not be able to make the jump to the NHL, despite already playing a prominent role in the SM-Liiga, and he could wind up being a flop. There also is, however, a chance that Granlund could be the next great Finnish player to make his mark on the NHL.
He has a lot of natural ability that simply cannot be taught, which is a huge asset to his game. Granlund thinks the game extremely well and is a very adept playmaker with the puck, and extremely crafty on the attack. His hockey sense is also top notch, as he competes hard and is fairly good at winning one on one battles in the SM-Liiga despite being one of the smaller players in the league.
His play in the SM-Liiga was exceptional this year, after joining HIFK after a bit of controversy was created with his departure from Karpat. Granlund scored at just under a point per game pace, with 40 points in 43 games as a 17 year old, but didn’t quite live up to expectations at the World Juniors. After a pretty good showing as a 16 year old with 3 points in 6 games, Granlund only managed 1 goal and 7 points this year despite playing a much bigger role with the club. Adding to the theme of uncertainty, however, he was once again a major force at the Under 18s, where he equalled his showing of 13 points from a year ago, in only 6 games played.
Suffice to say, Granlund is probably one of the biggest wildcards in the draft. He’s a player that could rank among the Top 3 or 4 players when its all said and done, or he could very well be a flop at the NHL level. On that notion, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see teams having him as high as 5, while other teams might see him as barely being a Top 20 pick. It will be interesting to see if a team is willing to grab him in the Top 10 on draft day, but if he slides past that mark, he probably won’t make it past 15.
Pros: Creativity, Playmaking, Passing
Cons: Size/Strength, Skating
Skillset comparison: Saku Koivu