Who Is This Guy?
Height: 6'0" ( 183 cm )
Weight: 178 lbs ( for our American audience ) or 81 kilograms for the rest of the world
Born: April 16th, 1993 in Oulu, Finland. He was drafted ( 45th overall ) in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft by the Flames of Calgary.
What Did He Do ?
I'd like to start with a post from three weeks ago from our friends at PITB. While I don't agree with every little thing, they nail the details well, as well as what I like to call, the "Hodgsonization" of Hunter Shinkaruk. The Canucks may not have given him a chance the fans wanted him to get, but they hired Jim Benning to make these decisions, and while Hunter has put up a few points here and there since the trade, the jury is still out.
Yet folks will gleefully post to twitter when he has a good game, usually with a disparaging aside to the general manager in Vancouver. I choose to take a more measured view. In regards to this particular player, the management has put up a signpost to their fans, and everyone else. Even if Granlund ends up as a total bust, the team wants total players, or "200 foot players". After one supposedly "offensively gifted" player crashed and burned spectacularly, I would think we fans would give the opinions of the hockey people more credit when another one comes around, especially when there are valid questions about whether Hunter's skill would translate at this level. I should have known better, I suppose !
That is not to say Markus Granlund set the world on fire. Daniel at PITB pointed out his team worst Fenwick ( to which I reply, especially on a down team, in a down year...sample size. He did not play enough games ( 16 in Vancouver, 31 in Calgary ). Simple as that. Advanced stats are cruel to players that play less games than those they are being compared to. In those games, he had 2 goals and an assist here, and 4 goals and 3 assists there, for what that is worth.
But it was more what you saw in his game. Yes, there were the flashes of offensive flair, and like a lot of the youngins on the team, he struggled with consistency, but when you watch his game, he seems to have the defensive aspect of the game as an instinct. Maybe that is a Finnish thing.
Was He Any Good ?
Again, a relative thing. I like to use hockeyanalysis.com and their table of the rest of the team. It shows pretty clearly how a player did in relation to the team, and the tables are easy clickable. Granlund is pretty much in the middle / lower middle of the table. His shooting percentage ( only 13 games helps here ) was 8th, at least, though 6.67 % is pretty pedestrian.
This player is challenging, as his stats are going to be over two teams, and both of them sucked this season. That downward bias is going to affect the numbers we usually use to judge how these guys did.
So I am going to go personal opinion and eyeballs here. Most of the time I did not notice him defensively ( a good thing ), except to maybe note a smart play here, a timely clear there, or thinking he was in the right spot quite often. Ss far as the offense goes, with almost all the young guys, that is, again, complicated. It is the best league in the world, and because of injuries and a shifting lineup, young players, who would benefit the most from developing chemistry and playing time with the same guys, were forced to sit or play, not knowing with who, or how long. That had to add to the struggles for the team this year. It probably affected Granlund. But I believe we saw enough of him to say he could be "good".
What Did We Like ?
His first point was a nice pass, and in his first game as a Canuck.
This is pretty basic, shot and a rebound. But you'd be surprised how often players screw up odd man rushes...his first goal as a Canuck.
Lest anyone think his offensive skills are lacking. Did this at 17 !
Now don't get me wrong, I liked Hunter's offensive skills too, but let's not shortchange the guy wearing Blue and Green now as well. Maybe his WJC tape from 2013 will help. We know the level of play there is high. He had 5 goals and 7 assists in 6 games. Impressive.
What Did We Hate ?
Consistency. I may have given the factors that went into it above, the lack of games, the linemates that changed nightly. But like a lot of young players, Granlund struggled to be consistent. Even if he is a responsible player, there were times that did not help, and times that we struggled to make an impact.
Perhaps he gets a bit of a mulligan this truncated year, but this is the one thing I expect to see out of this player going forward. He will have a full year of offseason training the "Canucks' Way", and will come to camp knowing he has a job, or at least a very good prospect of one. All he has to do is perform to get that NHL career going in the direction it needs to be headed.. And do it consistently. I think he can, but we will have to see next season.
So, What Now ?
Well, we know he will be back, as he signed shortly after the season ended. It is a 2 year, 1.8 million dollar deal. 900 K is a decent number for this player, and could be a great number if he takes off with any kind of success. I expect he is penciled in as the fourth line centre to start the season. Though, with a young team full of changes and potential plans, who knows ?
Maybe keep the eraser close at hand. You could do worse than a defensively responsible fourth line centre with some offensive upside. Let's hope he gets a chance to improve his numbers with some consistency in his play, leading to consistency in getting into the lineup.