What is there to say about Markus Granlund? He wasn't expected to be a regular fixture on the Calgary Flames this year, but as injuries plagued the team, he was called upon as one of the most NHL-ready centres in Adirondack.
He showed up and did what he could, amassing eight goals and 18 points in 48 games played (19 points in 51 games, including playoffs). Granlund showed moments of great offensive touch but his defensive abilities lacked as he played against some of the best hockey players in the world.
To put it simply, he was in over his head in the NHL. He still has work to do if he wants to make the big leagues, and he gained valuable experience this season. Here's what M&G had to say:
Markus Granlund probably wasn’t expected to play so much in the NHL this past season. While he had a strong preseason showing, he got injured, and pretty much cut as a consequence. That said, when other injuries struck - in particular, when the centre core got decimated - Granlund came back. And as one of the Flames’ most NHL-ready prospects, kept coming back, to the tune of 48 games.
The problem being he wasn’t exactly NHL-ready, and as the season went on, it showed. His initial scoring run dried up, and despite playing in sheltered circumstances - offensive zone starts and against weak competition - he was still frequently out-possessed. Granlund ultimately ended up fading into the background. He only just turned 22 years old, so he’s still perfectly fine as a prospect, but he may not end up being particularly high end, and there’s still a lot of growth to be had before he can become an effective NHL regular.
Mike FAIL (C):
Granlund is the prime example of not being ready for the NHL yet. Examining zone starts, competition, usage, point production, possession, etc, etc all show it. But he is also 22 and needs more time. Unfortunately with all the injuries early on, he saw increased usage. A stint back in the AHL showed how great he can be at that level.
He just needs more time and hopefully he can be a capable NHLer. But until then, the Flames tend to struggle when he is on the ice.
Granlund was okay at best this season. He put up a decent number of points, but his possession was absolutely abhorrent. He wasn’t anything more than a below average third liner and much of that was due to luck in his scoring. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for the future.
A lot of people point out that Granlund needs more time, but 22 isn’t young for entering the league. Gaudreau was 21 and took the league by storm. Monahan came into the league at 18 as well. Neither one of them had the benefit of A.H.L. seasons like many people talk about. Even Sam Bennett outperformed Granlund and he was 18 coming off of a shoulder injury.
The fact of the matter is that there’s only minimal improvement between the ages 22 to 24 and virtually none beyond the age of 24. Granlund’s scoring numbers are likely to regress, his poor possession is only going to see minimal improvement, and he probably played above his ceiling this year. He may progress to a mediocre third line player, but the Flames already have plenty of depth at center and it unfortunately looks like he won't be much more than a decent scoring threat on a fourth line - one that will need to be coupled with at least a solid possession player at that.
Granlund isn’t NHL-ready. That’s the gist of it. He wasn’t expecting to play so many NHL games this season, but injuries forced it. He really tried, and sometimes he got it all right, other times he just looked out of his league, but he was never a major liability. Granlund is still young, so it’s not to say he’ll never be NHL-ready - he’s got a time to develop - and he’s shown promise for a bottom six role, but I don’t think he’ll ever be top-tier material.
Granlund still has work to do. The Flames probably didn’t want him making regular appearances this year, but injury trouble at the beginning of the season forced him into action. He was all over the place this season; sometimes lost, sometimes right at home. We’ll have to see which version arrives for training camp in September.
It says a lot about Granlund that I can’t massively remember anything overly good or bad about him. He’s fairly inoffensive and doesn’t do a lot wrong. Is there anything more to come from him? I’d hope so. Time will tell.
Markus Granlund produced offense at an impressive rate of 1.73 points per 60 minutes (for reference Gaudreau produced at 1.74), however he was a major defensive liability. Granlund’s 5v5 possession numbers were abysmal, which allowed opponents to score against him at a rate quicker than any of his teammates other than Smid. There is no doubt Markus Granlund has skill, and at 22 he’s still young, but he has a lot to learn in order to have a positive impact on NHL ice.
No surprise, M&G is in agreement yet again. Markus Granlund has work to do before he's able to make the team full-time. With a plus here and a minus there, his season earned him a solid, middle-of-the-pack C.
There's a lot he could do better, but also a lot he could do worse. Time will tell whether he's able to develop into an NHLer one day. And we'll be along for the ride.