Wait for Finn phenom Granlund over, he's joining Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2013 - 6:17 AM

Mikael Granlund, after success at every level, is expected to be the Wild's second-line center now.

hide

Sweden's Jakob Silfverberg, left, challenges for the puck with Finland's Mikael Granlund.

Photo: Ronald Zak, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Back in Helsinki, Finland, Niklas Backstrom has gotten the chance to skate and work out with Mikael Granlund. Every now and then, the Wild goalie would remind the former HIFK star just who was responsible for his paycheck.

Backstrom owns a piece of the Finnish Elite League team that Granlund helped lead to a championship two years ago.

"He was making good money -- too much money. I don't think he can complain," Backstrom said, laughing hard. "The last couple years, I reminded him I was his boss. Now that he's my teammate, I have to be nice with him."

Told what Backstrom said, Granlund deadpanned, "I don't think he's nice to me even now," before breaking into laughter.

It has been almost 31 months since the Wild drafted Granlund ninth overall in the 2010 draft. Finally, on Tuesday, the 20-year-old Finnish phenom showed up in the Wild dressing room as a real-life Wild player.

Granlund is expected to make his NHL debut when the Wild opens the season on Jan. 19, in a game expected to be played in Colorado, according to a league source.

"NHL has been my dream. Now it's become true," Granlund said. "Now I'm here. Let's just play."

The NHL is expected to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday. The players should be done with their vote by Saturday.

After signing a three-year contract last June, Granlund was hoping to make his NHL debut in October. Instead, the lockout meant a stint in Houston, where he had 21 points in 21 games and was able to adjust to the North American game despite missing a month because of an ankle injury.

Training camp is expected to open Sunday. Granlund is penciled in initially as the No. 2 center between Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi.

The lines coach Mike Yeo jotted down last summer remain the lines now.

"We haven't played any bad games since I drew it up, so no changes," Yeo quipped.

One benefit Granlund has that other Wild players don't is that he is the only one that has played throughout the lockout. Mikko Koivu played a little in Finland, Clayton Stoner in Slovakia, Jared Spurgeon in Switzerland and Devin Setoguchi in Ontario, Calif.

"It's easier to play if you have a couple games," said Granlund, the 2010 SM-liiga Rookie of the Year who also helped Finland to a gold medal at the 2011 world championships. "Some guys haven't played at all."

It might take some time for the 5-10, 180-pound Granlund to get use to speed and size in the NHL, but he has thrived everywhere he has been.

"I played in the city he's from [Oulu] for four years," Backstrom said, "and while he's a lot younger and was playing junior, you hear stories about him forever. So far everywhere, from the Finnish Elite League to the national team to the AHL, he's been really good, so I don't see any reasons why he couldn't be immediately in the NHL.

"For sure it's different. It's faster, it's going to be 48 games, a quick pace here. But I don't see why he won't be the same player he has been in other leagues. For every player, young and old, you learn new stuff every year, so he'll learn a lot this year. But the skill he has, the vision, the hockey sense, he'll be fine."

Granlund is a rock star in Finland. He is followed by paparazzi and Backstrom says, "Following from a distance, I don't know how he did it. I don't think he could go anywhere without people following him or coming to talk to him when he goes out.

"He's a young boy. He should be able to do a lot of stuff, but he handled it very well. He's a great guy on the ice, a good player, but off the ice, he's even more mature than his age."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 46 3rd Qtr 10:35
Indiana 55
Cleveland 19 1st Qtr 3:59
Chicago 22
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Portland 9:00 PM
Sacramento
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Phoenix
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 2 2nd Prd 7:47
Columbus 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 1:52
Detroit 4
Anaheim 7:30 PM
Dallas
Nashville 8:00 PM
Calgary
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 0 1st Qtr 7:59
Tulane 0
Tulsa 0 1st Qtr 1:14
Memphis 0
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 7 8:08
Ottawa 15
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close