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Mikael Granlund (64) of the Minnesota Wild.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Learning curve continues with Granlund scratch

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • February 7, 2013 - 9:24 PM

 

Mikael Granlund's assimilation into the NHL hasn't gone exactly the way he or the Wild had hoped.

After three points in nine games and an arduous adjustment to the "best league in the world," Granlund was a healthy scratch Thursday night to make room for new acquisition Mike Rupp's Wild debut against Vancouver.

It's safe to say this is the first time in the heavily hyped 2010 first-round pick's career that Granlund, 20, was removed from the lineup without being hurt.

"I just need to be better. This is a tough league," Granlund said.

Coach Mike Yeo liked Granlund's response after being put on the fourth line Monday at Phoenix, but he became the victim of a numbers game after Yeo said a few "less than average games" put him in this position.

"It's good for young players to have to work for everything that they get," Yeo said. "Not to say that he hasn't, but he's never had to push through something like this. These kind of things make you stronger. And that's what we want around here."

Granlund, a star in Finland, coincidentally was scratched at the exact time several Finns, including sponsors from his old team, IFK, traveled to attend Thursday's game.

He is learning what he can and cannot get away with in the NHL. Besides offensive adjustments, Granlund must be more cognizant in his own end. The biggest issue for the 5-foot-10, 186-pounder is learning how to prosper in spite of the limited time and space that comes on a smaller ice sheet against bigger players.

"That's the biggest thing here," Granlund said. "You don't have that much space. You have to battle hard. There's a lot of 1-on-1 battles. I know what it's like now here, and I just have to work on that on the ice.

"All I can do now is work hard and try to get better."

At some point, the Wild might send him back to Houston to work on his game and confidence, but for now, Yeo says, "It's a learning process for him and one that we have to make sure we work with him every day and try to help him through."

Still in view

At the end of Thursday's morning skate, Yeo skated over to Matt Kassian, who would be scratched for the 10th consecutive game, for "sort of a tap on the shin pads ... we haven't forgotten about you" meeting.

"This guy's got a phenomenal attitude," Yeo said.

Still, with the Wild wanting to get bigger and tougher, it opted to trade for the veteran Rupp instead of playing Kassian.

"We brought Rupper in because of who he is and the way that he plays the game we think fits," Yeo said.

Kassian, drafted by the Wild in the second round in 2005, knows his Minnesota days could be nearing an end.

"But it's so far out of your control, I try not to worry about it or it'll eat you up inside," Kassian said. "This is a business, and they're trying to do what they think is best for the team and the future of the organization. You hope you're part of the plans. As of right now, I'm still a member of the team and part of the organization. I have been since Day One and my heart will always be here.

"And as long as I'm here, I'm going to continue to work hard and have a good attitude and be ready when they need me."

Etc.

• Defenseman Jared Spurgeon (foot) skated Thursday morning but missed his seventh consecutive game.

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