Defending Big D continues our annual series of looking at top draft prospects that could possibly have their name called by the Dallas Stars at the 2010 Entry Draft. Today we take a glance at a dazzling, playmaking Finnish center who reminds me a lot of our very own Brad Richards: Mikael Granlund. You'll notice I love this kid.
Team: HIFK (Sim-Liga)
Born: February 26, 1992
Hometown: Oulu, Finland
Weight: 180 pounds
NHL Central Scouting: 1st among European skaters
International Scouting Services: 15th overall
The Hockey News: 10th overall
McKeen's Hockey: 9th overall
Why the Stars would want him:
The kid is a freaking Brad Richards clone when it comes to distributing the puck. Just from watching highlights, you really get the picture that Granlund has a second sense when it comes to playmaking ability. And if the Stars ARE inclined to move a Mike Ribeiro this offseason, why not add another potential top-six playmaking center to the system? He's dazzling to watch play hockey.
Why the Stars would pass:
As you'll find in reading some of the comments from scouts, there are major concerns about Granlund's potential. He gets knocked a lot for his size, and there are questions about whether or not that will hurt him in trying to jump from the Finnish leagues to North American hockey. He's the quintessential boom-or-bust pick, and it's doubtful the Stars would use their 11th pick on such a player. Plus, there are more pressing needs than adding another left-handed center to the system....but if he's around at 41, they might take him. (But there's no way he'll be around at 41, or much less fall out of the first round. The kid's upside is too good for most teams to pass up.)
What they're saying:
"Saku Koivu clone. He's small, but no one's told him he's small. He has a really good, winning attitude, works very hard. He's tough, and he has very good hockey sense."
His innate understanding of every situation that arises during a game is uncanny. And his sublime passing touch and playmaking skills make everyone around him at least 50% better than they would ordinarily be without him on the ice. All he does is score huge clutch goals, make dazzling set-ups, compete every shift with a burning intensity and routinely outwork players twice his size to gain puck possession.
"Granlund is an intriguing prospect to be sure, as he is one of the most creative players in the crop, but his lack of size and strength have been a major detractor for many. Standing at only 5’10", 179lbs, Granlund’s lack of size is a concern for any player trying to make the jump to the NHL. Further adding to the problem is his average skating ability. While he is by no means a poor skater, his quickness needs a lot of improvement especially considering the fact that he is an undersized player."
And finally, feast your eyes on some dazzling highlights: (via RedSioux37)