Mikael Granlund was one of the kids that players like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter pointed to as a difference maker in their decision to sign in Minnesota. At the time, Parise and Suter were coming to a Wild team that had a number of prospects ready to graduate to the NHL and Mikael Granlund was the cream of the crop.
It didn’t go as planned early on. Granlund was certainly a hell of a passer, but not a dazzling puck shooter. Now, he wasn’t pegged as a prolific shooter in Finland, but he certainly had, and has, the vision to make things happen on the ice. Though points weren’t easy to come. But after a move from center to winger allowed Granlund to finally flourish. After posting back-to-back season of 69 and 67 points, the Granlund era of the Wild could come to a close.
Michael Russo of The Athletic has reported that, “Fenton has received what he may feel are viable offers for Granlund.” With the NHL’s trade deadline approaching today at 2 PM CT, Fenton has already been active on the trade market by shipping Charlie Coyle out to Boston, and Nino Niederreiter to Carolina. Mikael Granlund, at one point, viewed as the Wild’s best chance to cultivate a star. Yet, with his deal expiring this summer and his asking price likely going up, that hope that Granlund can be a star for the Wild might come to an end.
Granlund’s vision is still as advertised. His ability to dish the puck is definitely top notch, especially for this Wild team. Since 2015-16, Mikael Granlund ranks 11th among all players with over 2000 minutes of ice time in first assists at 5-on-5. That is better than Sydney Crosby, David Krejci, and Niklas Backstrom, who has freaking Alex Ovechkin to finish off his passes.
No doubt that Granlund is feeling the ire of the front office as he’s seen players with an unwillingness to shoot the puck already get traded. And if you ask any person that’s watched Granlund over the last 7 seasons, it that he hasn’t used his shot nearly enough to keep both defenses and goalies honest. However, we also have seen that he has an ability to really snipe the puck when he is in an aggressive mood.
The Wild might be a team that seems reluctant to shoot the puck, and the Wild certainly need more of that mindset. That said, the trading of Granlund will remove a player capable of 60+ points in a season and a player that can set the table for the best puck shooter on the team, whomever those players may be.
Russo has reported that Fenton’s old team, the Nashville Predators have come calling and are kicking the tires on Granlund. As speculation goes, Fenton is rumored to have interest in Predators forward Kevin Fiala.
Fiala has 28 goals at 5v5 since the 2016-17 season. That’s tied with Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, and Matt Duchene. And he’s done that with considerably less ice time. Breaking down 5-on-5 goals per hour, and Fiala jumps up into the same company as Nico Hischier, Cam Atkinson, and David Pastrnak.
Getting younger and faster is certainly something that needs to be done with a Wild re-tool. Mikael Granlund being involved in a trade from the Wild is definitely a re-tool.