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

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 4 1st Half 5:00
Virginia 30
Maine 12:00 PM
Army
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 12:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 20 1st Half 6:46
Denver 25
St Marys-CA 23 1st Half 7:02
George Washington 21
TX-San Antonio 23 1st Half 4:01
Nicholls 14
Portland State 16 1st Half 7:47
Columbia 21
Tenn Tech 25 1st Half 2:36
Morgan State 22
SMU 5 1st Half 13:26
Auburn 13
Quinnipiac 30 1st Half 6:42
Hartford 20
Hofstra 20 1st Half 7:07
Boston College 11
Eastern Washington 24 1st Half 3:15
Georgia Southern 16
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Bryant
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Brown
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Long Island
Bucknell 12:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
Wagner
FIU 12:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Providence
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
Samford
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Marist
Saint Josephs 12:00 PM
(5) Notre Dame
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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 pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close