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Most intriguing Canucks at camp, #6: Markus Granlund

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Lets kick off September by looking at six ‘intriguing’ names on the roster.

Vancouver Canucks v Montreal Canadiens
There are a plethora of places where Markus Granlund might end up heading into next season.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

It’s only beginning of September, yet those involved with the Canucks through management and media are swapping spots faster than you can say Artyom Manukyan.

Even though commotion has been at an all-time high on those fronts, things remain utterly unchanged in terms of player personnel. That will soon change, with training camp mere weeks away. On this team that has too many bodies at multiple positions, the road to the regular season is sure to be an entertaining one.

With so many spots up for grabs, there are some players that stand above the rubble covered in question marks. I’ve selected six players that could resemble The Riddler heading into training camp.

Today, that riddler is Markus Granlund.

Where He Left Off

2016-17 was arguably the worst of all the Canucks recent losing seasons. Hope was ill-fated and the Canucks were woefully boring to watch during Willie Desjardins’ last season.

For Granlund though, that season probably couldn’t have gone an better. He shone through during that dreadful campaign, earning himself top-six minutes alongside the Sedin twins to close out the season.

Unfortunately, the Granlund hype ended with Jeff Paterson’s 24-goal prediction. Travis Green never seemed to warm up to the versatile forward, using him primarily in checking and shutdown roles. That resulted in Granlund’s offence drying up, and he found himself regressing from the potential he flashed in the 2016-17.

After scoring eight goals and 12 points in 53, Granlund’s season ended prematurely after he underwent ankle surgery in February.

Where He Sits Now

Even though Granlund flashed offensive potential more than a year ago, injuries are starting to become a factor in his NHL career. Back in 2016-17, the common thought was ‘hey, if Granlund can score 19 with a bum wrist, he should be able to easily beat that next season!’

Well, it didn’t work out that way, and Granlund has undergone both wrist surgery and ankle surgery in the past 16 months. In an interview with Sportsnet 650 back on July 12th, Granlund did say that he’s been given a clean bill of health.

“I’m 100%,” Granlund said. “The ankle is feeling good. I’ve been skating and doing workouts.”

He also shed some light on where he sees himself playing in the Canucks lineup next season, and it’s probably not where most picture Granlund on ending up.

“I think I can play in the top six, but it’s up to Travis and what he wants from me.”

“I know it’s tough when I can play in every situation, it can be tough but it’s also a good thing.”

Good on Granlund for trying to make the most of his predicament, but he’s right in his own assessment. While he might see himself as a player who has more to give offensively, it’s clear that Green didn’t feel the same about him last season. Almost every Canucks forward had more offensive zone starts than Granlund. The only ones who didn’t were Brandon Sutter, Derek Dorsett, Darren Archibald and Brendan Gaunce.

Season Outlook

There aren’t many Canucks who are presented with a wilder list of scenarios than Granlund. The best case situation for the Helsinki native is that he lights the lamp in training camp, and steals a top six spot from someone above him on the depth chart.

The worst case scenario, is that he ends up being a surprise cut from camp, despite signing a one-year contract extension during the summer. Both scenarios would be surprising, but would either come as a total shocker?

2017 NHL China Games - Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks
Markus Granlund sees himself as a top-six forward, but will he get a chance there? The odds are against him.
Photo by Yifan Ding/NHLI via Getty Images

There’s clearly a logjam at winger coming into camp, a position that Granlund has said he prefers.

“I like to play winger,” Granlund said to SN650. “Last two years I’ve been playing winger. I like it. There’s not that much responsibility defensively.”

That’s probably not music to Green’s ears, but it’s clear that Granlund surely doesn’t see himself as this defensive guru. His 32.4% goals-for percentage at even-strength last season would back up that notion.

While he could still carve out a role there, his chances of making the team become smaller if he’s gunning solely for an offensive role. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could beat out some of the other names, but it would take an extremely impressive preseason to make that happen.

“It’s a good thing that we have lots of young guys coming in. Competition, it’s going to be hard to make the team. I can’t wait to start the camp.”