The Minnesota Wild have signed centre Mikael Granlund to a three-year contract worth $17.25 million, the team announced Tuesday.
The signing comes on the heels of Minnesota’s inking of Nino Niederreiter on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Granlund was set for an arbitration hearing on August 4, but the signing avoids the proceedings and puts one more critical player under contract.
The Finnish forward had 26 goals and 43 assists in 2016-2017, good for a total of 69 points in 81 games. He set career-best totals in goals, assists and points and the Wild are banking on his upside.
“Mikael has been an important part of our club for the last five years and he showed a great amount of growth with an impressive performance last season,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “People across the league are now surely aware of what our management group has always known: Mikael has a tremendous level of talent and skill.”
For Minnesota, it seems like Granlund has finally arrived.
Drafted ninth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the centre took some time to warm into his expected role of elite playmaker. In 2015-2016, he set the wheels in motion with a 13-goal performance but he didn’t seem to really break out until a year later when he doubled his goal totals.
Without 2016-2017, today would be a different day for Granlund. He was finding himself in the midst of trade speculation as his point-per-game numbers tumbled, but Bruce Boudreau’s systemic changes in Minnesota opened things up and he flourished.
Not only that, Eric Staal’s arrival in July of 2016 pushed Granlund to the wing. That moved more of his focus to the attack and he proved his mettle by opening up with 177 shots on goal, his highest total to date.
With Granlund finding his way, the contract makes sense. It doesn’t carry a massive term, but it does leave the door open for the future. And it expresses caution on behalf of the Wild, who may have been managing the bank a little.
With $52 million signed to a dozen players through 2018-2018, the team would be wise to keep things reasonable. And they’ve still got to sign Marcus Foligno, plus they’ve got some financial movements to make this time next year when Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba become restricted free agents and Mikko Koivu looks to face the open market.