Last summer’s weird contract situation with Mikael Granlund was a bit confusing. After seeing Craig Smith walk away from the Predators and sign with Boston, many expected Granlund to seek better fortunes elsewhere. Colin Blackwell did it, as did Smith. Why not Granlund?
Granlund is 29 years old. He’s a left shot. He put up 13 goals and 14 assists in the shortened 2020-2021 season. His performance last season was MUCH better than we expected it to be based off his previous season and a half with Nashville. However, he had 17 goals during the ‘19-’20 campaign, with many of those points coming after John Hynes was hired as Nashville’s third head coach. Granlund flourished under Hynes - that much is clear.
With Minnesota, Granlund had a few seasons with 20+ goals. When GM David Poile traded Kevin Fiala for Mikael Granlund, he expected that sort of production from Granlund in a gold jersey...but we know that Granlund’s start with Nashville was more than rough.
This alone should make a solid case for re-signing #64: Granlund’s production in 2020-2021 was certainly the most consistent of any Nashville forward. Poile and Hynes both called Granlund consistent...and both were highly complimentary of the Finn.
“He’s extremely reliable, consistent. He’s durable. He shows up every night...He’s a highly skilled player, but he doesn’t rely on skill. He relies on his work ethic. … That’s why he earned the minutes that he got. He was a really big impact player for us.” -Nashville head coach John Hynes
Under Hynes, Granlund’s average time on ice (TOI) increased by about 3 minutes. His shooting percentage hasn’t been great, but it’s definitely improved under John Hynes. That’s likely to improve next season. He still projects as a second-liner and he likely has a few interested teams ready to lock him up.
The Predators should make every effort to lock Granlund up to another deal. Something in the 3-4 year range would make the most sense, and he’d probably need a raise from this season’s $3.75 million deal. How does 4 years at $4.5 million sound? That kind of deal gives Granlund some permanence here in Nashville.
This last-second goal from 2019-2020 is just one example of Granlund’s never-quit attitude. He’s not exactly a net front presence, but he finds ways to finish plays...that 110% effort is most certainly “the Predators way.”
Several years ago, you’d find me lauding the efforts and tenaciousness of Viktor Arvidsson. However, since his injury from Robert Bortuzzo’s crosscheck in the 2019-2020 season, he hasn’t been the same player. Arvidsson is largely absent, rarely makes an impact, and seems to shy away from the kind of plays that made him a Nashville fan-favorite in 2016 and 2017.
It’s almost funny thinking back to March. Granlund was an often-discussed trade chip when the Predators were at their very worst. I’m fairly sure he was rumored to Toronto, Philadelphia, and other teams were very likely interested. There’s a reason for that kind of interest. Granlund seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He’s a high-level passer, and that kind of playmaking ability alone should have other teams interested. Granlund is an excellent defensive forward, too.
Mikael Granlund provides leadership for the Predators without a letter on his sweater. Hynes noted that Granlund stepped up in the absence of injured players last season. If he is not re-signed here, he will certainly flourish on another NHL squad. If he signs somewhere else, Nashville will regret not locking up #64.