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Granlund Will Play for Finland, Talks About Being ‘Dad’ for Eklund & Zetterlund

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

There weren’t a lot of feel-good stories on the last-place San Jose Sharks this season.

Mikael Granlund was perhaps the best of them.

After being dealt from the Nashville Predators to the Pittsburgh Penguins at last year’s Trade Deadline, Granlund produced only a goal and five points in 21 games in the Steel City. He and his $5 million cap hit, signed until 2024-25, were dumped on the Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade.

But the 32-year-old, instead, revived his career with a team-leading 48 assists and 60 points in 69 games, his fourth time reaching the 60-point mark. He also provided much-needed mentorship, experience, and offensive production.

In his exit interview, Granlund detailed the growth that he saw from the young players on the Sharks, but the need for the team as a whole to develop better defensive habits. He also announced that he will play in his seventh World Championships for Finland.

He also talked about how smaller players can, like him, win one-on-one battles on a consistent basis against bigger players.

Granlund, on how the San Jose Sharks will be better next season:

First thing, obviously, I really hope [Logan Couture] will be ready to go. That’s one guy that’s gonna help us right away. A lot of young kids who are gonna get better. Getting this one year, and having a really good summer again, and being more ready.

We’ll see if there’s gonna be any new guys and all that, but we need to get a better start to the season. Just a really tough start to this season and that’s not easy to recover from. So, hopefully we can do a better job with that.

Granlund, on playing at the World Championships:

First of all, I love to play hockey. I love to play for Finland. When I was a kid, that was my biggest dream to play for Team Finland. Always, I have a chance to go there, I’m more than willing to do so. Being healthy, personally having a pretty good season, feeling good in your body, you want to keep going and you always have a chance to win something there and play some meaningful games. I just love to play for Team Finland.

Granlund, on how the Sharks can improve defensively next year:

I think we’re a young team. You need to get more experienced in D-zone, you need to be able to win more battles. If you’re not winning one-on-one battles, you’re gonna be spending a lot of time defending. There’s a lot of things we can do better, but a lot of times it just comes to that, winning a battle, being really hard on guys, and that alone is gonna eliminate a lot of the other team’s chances.

Granlund, on the jump he saw William Eklund make this season: 

It was his first season in NHL, it’s the toughest league in the world. You can tell right away he has the skill-set. He’s gonna be a really good player. He was getting a lot of opportunities, which he really deserved he. He played good. Young player, he’s a smart kid, skilled.

Granlund, on Eklund and Fabian Zetterlund:

They develop really fast in this league, they learn fast, they’re willing to put to work. You can see from the beginning of season, up til the last month, how he played, wow. And he’s gonna get better.

Granlund, on his advice to help fellow smaller players win one-on-one battles:

First of all, it’s not easy. Trying to win a battle against a bigger guy than you, it takes a little bit more. But, you gotta be willing to try to do that. That’s the first thing.

The other thing is you learn how- -you don’t want to put yourself in a position [where] someone’s going to outmuscle you. You need to be a little bit smarter. You gotta be good with your skates, good with your sticks. There’s a lot of different ways and if you’re a smart player, you can figure it out pretty quickly.

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