2011 Draft Retrospective: Markus Granlund
CALGARY, AB -- Comparisons are an inevitable part of life and in the sports world, they are the norm.
Players are constantly likened to other athletes in their sport with their actions and accomplishments sized up against that of their counterparts.
For Calgary Flames 2011 second round draft pick Markus Granlund, comparisons to older brother Mikael, a Minnesota Wild prospect, cannot be avoided.
The duo played together last season with HIFK of SM-liiga. They played on a line at times during the 2012 World Junior Championship. They play a similar style of game.
Even their highlight-reel goals are comparable. Look up either of their names on YouTube and some of the top results will be their respective lacrosse-style tallies that show off their slick hands and creativity.
"Like Mikael, Markus is an imaginative player, good skills, good hands, and plays in the moment," Finnish author and sports journalist Risto Pakarinen told CalgaryFlames.com in an email.
However, as a French proverb so aptly points out, "to compare is not to prove." And Granlund has proved his worth.
As a teenager playing in a highly-competitive men's league that generally doesn't offer a lot of ice time to youngsters, Granlund held his own this year. He finished off the season with 15 goals and 34 points in 47 games, averaging 0.72 points-per-game.
At the World Juniors, Granlund averaged a point-per-game, scoring two goals and five assists in seven games, and got his first taste of the atmosphere at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"It was a lot of fun," the forward said of the experience. "Playing hockey is always nice and in the Saddledome it's fun."
When he was drafted, his size, 5-foot-11 and 175 lbs., was questioned and some wondered if he would be able to handle the physical rigors of playing against men. Granlund has adjusted to playing against larger opponents this season in SM-liiga and continues to work on developing his frame through off-ice training. His skating, an area he has mentioned wanting to work on, has also improved throughout the year.
His progression has impressed Flames assistant general manager John Weisbrod, who has spent time watching him in international tournaments and with HIFK.
"Markus had a good year," he told The Fan 960. "I saw him a number of times, went over to Finland and saw him in that environment.
"He's a really smart player. A dynamic player offensively ... he's a high-end player and high-skilled player. We feel like he's in a pretty good situation there and our intent is just to leave him on that track, continue to check on him over the course of this season."
Pakarinen has seen a lot of European players make the leap over to the NHL and believes Granlund has the necessary skills to be a very productive in the league.
"The big intangible with both Mikael and Markus is that they seem to be able to rise to the next level, whatever it is. That makes it hard to predict where they'll land, but I'd say Markus is going to be a good second-liner.
"It may take a few years, but he's got the tools to get there."