Let’s think for a minute where the Nashville Predators would be this season if Mikael Granlund doesn’t re-sign with the team at the last minute on July 28 of last offseason.
Virtually everyone thought Granlund was good as gone as he was once again testing the open market, and the Predators were moving forward with a younger roster and an implementation of their prospects. The rebuild season was finally here.
But for whatever reason, Granlund didn’t get what he was looking for apparently, and he signed the four-year deal with the Predators worth $5M per year. A downright steal when you look at it now six months later.
Nashville Predators wouldn’t be where they are if Granlund doesn’t return
Granlund has been the ultimate puck distributor for his regular linemates Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene, who are having tremendous seasons. Without Granlund in the mix, it’s fair to say that neither Forsberg or Duchene are having these kinds of seasons that’s catching the notice league wide.
And yet Granlund doesn’t seem to be getting nearly the praise he probably deserves from the national media or even us local fans. He’s tied with Forsberg for third on the team in points with 38, and leads the team in assists with 32 after tallying one on Forsberg’s power play goal in the win over the Canucks on Tuesday:
This goal from Forsberg put the Predators up for good as they reached the 60-point mark on the season, the second team in the Western Conference to reach that mark.
Granlund has played a major role in the revitalized Predators power play that is seventh in the NHL, and has been top-ten almost the entire season. That’s not happening if Granlund isn’t on this team in my humble opinion.
The Predators now have a line combination that teams have to worry about. A go-to line that you can trust to produce nearly every game, and always give you a chance to make a comeback if you’re trailing by a couple goals.
Granlund has notched 13 assists on the power play this season, which only trails Roman Josi. His goal production is down, but we can live with that when he’s setting up Forsberg and Duchene who are both on track to break Viktor Arvidsson‘s franchise single season goal record of 34.
There’s also something to be said about durability and reliability on Granlund’s part. He’s played in 44 of the 46 games this season and is averaging the most ice time among forwards on the team with over 20 minutes per game.
Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile has to be feeling relieved and grateful that he somehow got Granlund to re-sign at the last minute. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal. Granlund had nowhere to go and Poile was able to get him for a relatively cheap deal.
Granlund isn’t an UFA until after 2024-25, so add a W into the win column for Poile on this one. It’s proven to be a major factor into why the Predators are the surprise team of the NHL, and it bodes well for their chances of getting out of the first round now that they have a complete and reliable line combination with a quality set-up man like Granlund has been.
This trio is feasting this season, and it’s pushing the Predators into unexpected territory during a “competitive rebuild” season. Granlund has been a godsend for this team, and that trade that sent away Kevin Fiala is finally paying off.
Will Granlund every return to his Minnesota days of being nearly a 70-point scorer? It looks like he has a decent chance to flirt with that this season if he avoids missing any lengthy amount of time.