Of all Toronto Maple Leafs prospects, Petter Granberg is likely the biggest riser. Amongst a prospect pool that is largely three or four years away (or more) from competing for an NHL roster spot, Granberg has emerged from the relative unknown to actually push for a job as early as this upcoming season.
Despite his quiet development, Granberg has accomplished quite a bit since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Besides appearing in 73 games for Skelleftea’s men’s team (with whom he won an Elitserien Championship), Granberg has an U18 World Junior Championships silver medal, a U20 World Junior Championships gold medal, and a World Championship gold medal.
That’s a tremendous amount of hardware for a defenceman who just turned 21 last week. And according to Jim Hughes, the Leafs’ Directory of Player Development, there’s good reason why Granberg has been so successful – here’s what he told the Toronto Sun at the Leafs prospect camp back in July:
"He’s got a great stick, he’s got tight gaps… you can’t beat him off the rush. He’s a containment guy, but the older he gets, the more aggression he has in his game. When we first had him here [at prospect camp] three years ago, he was almost polite. Now he has lots of push-back."
In all likelihood, Granberg starts the season with the Marlies, where he’ll have to battle for ice time and likely see his fair share of healthy scratches considering Toronto’s blue line depth. Don’t mistake that as punishment though, as Granberg will likely be one of the first Marlies defenders to get a call up in an injury situation.
Granberg has a valuable right-handed shot, and plays the kind of simple, hard-nosed game that Randy Carlyle likes. I ranked Granberg ahead of other defenders (and forwards, for that matter) because I believe him to be closer to the NHL than most. It’s very hard to deny Granberg high billing considering his rapid development pace and truckload of accolades.
Looking for a comparison? Ugh, of course you are. Don’t you know these things are stupid? Granberg is big, strong, contributes assists here and there, and defends well. So, Philadelphia’s Luke Schenn? Ottawa’s March Methot? Probably more like Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson, but certainly not as dreamy…