Young hockey prospect Mikael Granlund signs 3-year-contract with NHL's Minnesota Wild
Granlund and Finnish Lions' captain Mikko Koivu envisioned as the new offensive cornerstone for the team’s success
Mikael Granlund, 20, one of the heroes behind Finland’s 2011 Ice Hockey World Championship victory and the author of the now legendary air-scoop goal against Russia in the semi-final, will transfer from the SM-Liiga, Finland's premier ice hockey league, to the NHL's Minnesota Wild on a three-year contract.
The transfer will guarantee Granlund an annual salary of nearly USD one million (EUR 780,000), but at their best his annual earnings may reach the two-million-dollar mark.
"Now I’m a member of the Minnesota Wild and it’s a dream for me. I’m really excited”, Granlund says on his new team’s website.
“I particularly wanted to play in Minnesota.”
Within the NHL, sceptics have complained that Granlund is too small in stature and that his skating is weak.
“I will never become the biggest or the fastest player. Therefore I have to be the smartest guy on the ice”, Granlund told the Minnesota Star Tribune daily last year.
Yesterday, the newspaper reminded its readers that Granlund has been in close contact with the Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who also captained the national side in 2011 and again at this year's World Championships on home ice, where Finland finished fourth.
The men also carried out their military service at the same time
At the 2012 tournament, which ended last Sunday, Finnish Lions' head coach Jukka Jalonen even experimented with letting the two men play in the same line. Granlund and Koivu played side by side in the bronze medal game.
The information on Granlund and Koivu’s shared experiences in the past two years was received favourably in Minnesota.
Within the Wild ranks the two are expected to form the team’s offensive cornerstone, upon which the long-awaited success can then be built.
“I have a lot to learn from Koivu. He is a great player and leader”, Granlund commented.
Granlund was the Minnesota Wild’s first pick (ninth overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Koivu was the team’s first draft pick back in 2001.
Mikko Koivu, 29, is currently the highest-paid Finnish ice hockey player in the NHL. In June 2010, he signed a seven-year and 47-million-dollar contract with the Minnesota Wild.
Granlund postponed the signing of his contract because he wanted first to finish school and then complete his military service.
“And also to train hard so that I would be ready for the NHL”, said Granlund, who played three years in the ranks of the SM-Liiga team Helsinki IFK, helping them to take the national title in 2010-2011.
In connection with their reporting on the news of Granlund’s signing, the Minnesota Wild also posted a video montage on their website depicting some of the highlights of the young Finn’s amazing career.
Naturally the clip ended with the famous air-scoop goal at the 2011 World Championship tournament.
Two other players from the Finnish national team are also aspiring to make their NHL debut this coming season. These are Leo Komarov (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Joonas Järvinen (Nashville Predators).
The next step for Granlund will be the Minnesota Wild prospects camp on July 9th-15th.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Russians score a "perfect ten" as Ice Hockey World Championships end in disappointment for Finnish Lions (21.5.2012)
Granlund´s goal resurfaces on a postage stamp (27.5.2011)
Mikael Granlund: anatomy of the air-scoop master (18.5.2011)
Finnish Lions deliver near-perfect team performance to shut out Russia and progress to dream final against Sweden (13.5.2011)
Revenue from Ice Hockey World Championships goes towards junior work in the sport (22.5.2012)
Minnesota Wild: Finnished Business - Wild Sign Mikael Granlund