Nashville Predators 2022-23 Season Preview: Mikael Granlund

Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) takes a shot on gaol against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) takes a shot on gaol against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

A vital player to the Nashville Predators‘ success last season often gets overlooked, and that player is Mikael Granlund.

You can’t help but wonder where this Predators team would’ve finished if Granlund doesn’t return to the team at the last minute during the offseason. It was all but a done deal that he wasn’t returning to Nashville, but in the end he re-signed bargain contract of four years for $5 million.

Granlund primarily centered the line between Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene, two players who ended up having career-best years thanks in large part to having a quality linemate center.

It was extremely refreshing to see Granlund return close to his offensive impact level that he had when he was with the Minnesota Wild. Perhaps it’ll become the norm and we can be pleased with the original trade for Granlund that sent Kevin Fiala away.

Granlund enters his 5th season with Nashville Predators

Once again Granlund will be called upon to be this team’s primary engine and distributor among the forwards. I don’t see a scenario, barring a rash of injuries, where Granlund isn’t playing with Forsberg and Duchene. This line had undeniable chemistry as the Predators finally had that go-to line that the opposition had to key in on.

As the roster gets deeper with Nino Niederreiter joining the mix, that can hopefully take some pressure off Granlund’s line to be near perfect every game.

Granlund racked up 53 assists last season, which was a career high beating his previous high in 2017-18 with the Minnesota Wild. However, his goal production was down, scoring his lowest total since 2014-15, only his third year in the NHL.

It’s totally fair to want more goal production from Granlund in 2022-23. However at the same time when you’re seeing him dish out the high assist totals and making Forsberg and Duchene superstar type of players, you can live with it.

Furthermore, Granlund’s power play production was highly impressive as he efficiently put up 25 assists on the man advantage.

Granlund also retained himself as being a moderately reliable defensive forward. He tallied 45 blocked shots, which was good for fourth on the team among the forwards. His hit total was also a career best with 92.

We might often forget that Granlund has some physicality to his game as well, and isn’t just a finesse offensive passer.

2022-23 Season Outlook and Prediction for Granlund

It’s fair to fully expect another productive season from Granlund around the same level as last season. As long as Duchene and Forsberg don’t miss extended amounts of time due to injury, then it should make for a repeat of last season to some degree.

Again, I’d really like to see Granlund start potting more goals as well. His shot totals were way down from all of his previous NHL seasons. Even in his first full season with the Predators he put up 130 shots on goal, 13 more in 17 fewer games than this past season.

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Regardless, last year Granlund finally looked fully comfortable for the first time in a Nashville Predators uniform. He should be able to replicate that, and maybe even increase his production even more.

With the Predators having higher preseason expectations than they’ve had since 2019, Granlund is literally at the center of it as this team’s top centerman.

My prediction for Granlund is his goal output slightly increases, he maintains his assist output, and finishes in a similar neighborhood of points as last season. I’ll go 15 goals, 50 assists for 65 points.