Wild Selects Granlund With Ninth Overall Pick
Friday, 06.25.2010 / 5:31 PM CT / Minnesota Wild | 2010 NHL Entry Draft
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
But what if he can be better?
Koivu has developed into one of the premier two-way forwards in the game, and he's begun to take on the roll as the most popular NHLer among Finnish hockey fans.
But even Koivu's stats prior to the the year he was drafted in 2001 don't hold a candle to Granlund's pre-draft totals. Koivu, who was taken sixth overall pick in 2001, played 21 games for TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League, and posted one assist in 21 games. He spent most of that season with the TPS Turku Jr. team and tallied nine goals and 36 assists.
Granlund, on the other hand, piled up nearly a point per game, notching 13 goals and 27 assists in 43 Finnish Elite League. Granlund played most of the season as a 17-year-old before celebrating his 18th birthday on February 26. He led all SM-Liiga rookies in points and was named SM-Liiga Rookie of the Year.
Granlund is well aware of, but has never met Mikko. He says he grew up a fan of another Koivu. That's fitting, because Goran Stubb, the League's Director of European Scouting, compares him to another prominent Finn from the same family, Saku.
“Saku Koivu clone," says Stubb. "He has a really good, winning attitude, works very hard. He's tough, and he has very good hockey sense."
The Redline Report says that Granlund is the "most imaginative playmaker" in the 2010 Draft.
Despite admitting that he was the smallest player on his team, Granlund was an offensive force, playing among seasoned professionals.
"I think I'm a playmaker," he said when asked to describe his skills. "I try to make plays for my linemates and make my linemates better. I think that's my game. I try to play hard and be competitive, try to just help my team as much as possible.
Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr was thrilled to be able to get an offensive player with the skills and attitude of Granlund.
"Mikael is a highly skilled forward with elite hockey sense and competitiveness," said Flahr, who might say the same thing about Koivu. "He has had a lot of success playing against men in the Finnish Elite League."
Granlund is listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, but he laughed at the idea that he'd be too small to play in the National Hockey League.
"I have always been one of the smallest guys on the team, and it's not a problem. I try to do things, and it's not a problem to be a little bit smaller than everybody else.
Granlund's said he will likely play at least one more year in Finland, but he smiled when it was brought up that he may be able to watch his new team play twice in his homeland with the Wild plays Carolina twice in October.
"That would be great to see," he said.
There's a small chance he's playing for the Wild in his home country. Flahr did not rule that possibility out, and said a contract would be worked out, but that still means he would most likely stay in Finland. Whatever happens, he's excited to be coming to Minnesota sooner or later.
"Oh, it's great to be going to Minnesota," he said. "It's really a hockey place. And it's great to be here. It's a great organization, and there is other players, too, so it's pretty exciting right now."
The excitement felt by Granlund today will be felt next year in St. Paul by his younger brother, Markus. One year younger than Mikael, Markus is a highly-touted forward. When asked how good his brother is, Mikael smiled and said, "He's okay, let's say that."