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  • HW Top 25 Under 25: #5 Mikael Granlund


    I've felt pretty foolish since.

    This begs the question: What happened?


    It's not due to a lack of skills. Granlund is a very gifted passer, with great vision and puck-handling ability. It's no coincidence that Pominville lit it up in 2013-14, nor is it a coincidence that Parise enjoyed his best goal-scoring season in a Wild sweater last season. Both of them benefitted from being alongside Granlund.



    It's in this clip that we see the missing ingredients to Granlund's success.

    The first is aggression. In a pressure-packed situation where Granlund was playing with 30-goal scorers in Parise and Pominville, Granlund found a small opening and took matters into his own hands. Too often, we've seen Granlund defer to his linemates. Understandable, because he's a young NHL playmaker skating alongside proven goal scorers. There's a lot of factors in that sentence that might make him feel pressure to pass instead of shoot.

    The trend is clear. When Granlund shoots more, it forces opposing teams to account for him, and it frees up space for him to more effectively create offense for either himself or his teammates.

    When you watch this hit, you'll see Granlund landing on the ice head-first- he was lucky to just have broken his wrist.

    It's good to see that Granlund has competitiveness to his game, and that he's not afraid of physical contact. But a player as lauded for his vision as he is can not be opening himself to the contact that he takes. What was the upside to fighting through that check? Granlund needs to be able to quickly assess the risk and reward of taking contact and pick his spots in the physical side of the game.

    Granlund is still only 23 years old, but with the Wild facing tough salary cap decisions on the horizon, this will be a big year for him. If he makes the adjustments to become a prolific offensive center, the Wild are going to make it a priority to give him the long-term, big-money deal he desires. If he continues to be passive offensively, or gets injured because he's still prone to taking hard contact too frequently, he could find himself in a different organization by this time next year.

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