TLN TOP TWENTY LEAFS PROSPECTS: #5 PETTER GRANBERG

Coming in at number five on our list defenceman Petter
Granberg, who jumped a massive eight spots from our midterm rankings done back
in January.

Granberg is not by any means an offensive dynamo, so don’t
kid yourself here with his high ranking. He registered only two goals and seven
points in 73 games for the Marlies, his first season playing in the AHL.
Instead, what Granberg brings to the table is something the big league club has
been missing dearly over the last few years – a sound defensive presence. Being
paired with Stuart Percy for the majority of the season, Granberg was relied
upon to be the Marlies go-to defensive defenceman.

He’s a big defenceman, standing 6’2” and weighing 201
pounds, but his size isn’t a detriment to his skating ability. It actually wouldn’t
hurt if he put on even more size while sustaining his skating ability. Granberg
isn’t easy to beat around the edge and he’s been getting more physical as he’s
matured as a hockey player. He could very well be viewed soon as an upgrade
over the typically stone-footed “defensive-defenceman” the Leafs have seemed to
love employing under Nonis and Carlyle (Franson, Gleason, Polak anyone?).

In fact, he’s one of the only players on this list who could
challenge for legitimate NHL playing time as soon as this season (he was called
up for one game last season). If injuries occur on the backend, Granberg should
be one of the first people called up to fill that spot. More so, it’s not
entirely out of the question that he could make the team out of training camp,
although that scenario seems highly unlikely (Maybe Cody Franson gets
traded?!?).

In order for him to continue to improve, he needs to work on
the little details in his game, since he isn’t overly impressive in any one
aspect. Skating, footwork, physicality, puck-moving and hockeysense are all
things that he can work on in the AHL while he gets ready to graduate to Maple
Leafs.

Once he does get here – which should be at some point during
this season – he should bring a safe, reliable, boring game without being a liability
defensively. And when you’re relied upon to play a strictly defensive game,
safe and boring is not a bad thing.

The potential is there for Granberg to become a top-4 NHL
defenceman. He just needs to keep improving at the AHL level and prove to
everyone in the organization that he deserves a spot on the Maple Leafs.  

  • Benjamin

    While I am somewhat skeptical of players drafted so low, I can see Petter Granberg continuing to play a role for the Marlies, and hopefully with the big club. The one area you can’t teach is size.

  • Gumby

    The fact that Granberg is penciled in as the 7th defenseman is pretty scary.

    First, he should be playing regular minutes in the AHL to continue his development and secondly it shows how poor the depth on defense will be this year if injuries occur. It seems he may already be pressed into the 6th spot with Robidas still not cleared.

    The Leafs have 16 forwards fighting for 12/13 spots, yes that excludes Orr and Frazer. You would think they would have brought in another NHL tested player to ride the 7th spot on defense.

    • MaxPower417

      It might not be that bad.

      In his one game at the end of last year Granberg looked to be far more defensively aware than some of his Leaf team mates.

      Granberg has also been playing against adults much longer than a kid from the OHL with just one year in the AHL.

      He has two seasons and 117 games of playing against men in the Swedish hockey league…that included 43 playoff games. He also played 10 games with adults in 2013 IIHF World Championship for Sweden and they won gold against guys like Stamkos and Kovalchuk

      Add in World Junior experience, 73 AHL games and 14 more in the AHL playoffs and he might be more ready than you think.

      We aren’t rushing him into the NHL at 18, like Luke Schenn. He’s 22…four years older

      • MaxPower417

        You make valid points. The concern is that he is deemed our most NHL ready defensive prospect and looks to be making this team. The depth really drops off for NHL ready talent on defense behind our top 7.

        Who gets the call-up in the case of injuries? MacWilliams? Holzer who is at risk of waiver pickup?

        And lets imagine that zero man-games are lost on defense – just looking at the 5/6/7 slots means Franson, Polak, and Granberg would probably sit the most. If you wanted to “share” the press box duty between those 3 then they would sit roughly 25 games a piece.

        I’m not sold on the “it might not be that bad”, it will be bad. I’m sure Burke was the one that said his team should expect to have 9 different players on the blue line in a season. I only count 6 and 2 question marks in Granberg/Holzer, that is my concern.

        • MaxPower417

          “You make valid points. The concern is that he is deemed our most NHL ready defensive prospect and looks to be making this team.”

          Because he is waiver exempt. I think they will go with 6 defencemen, keep him on the Marlies to start the season and push him up and down as needed, epecially if there is an injury. I don’t think they will let him sit in the press box for very long.

          “The depth really drops off for NHL ready talent on defense behind our top 7.

          Who gets the call-up in the case of injuries? MacWilliams? Holzer who is at risk of waiver pickup?”

          My guess is Percy (waiver exempt) as he played with Granberg and they would quite naturally become the third pairing.

          After Percy, then MacWilliam

          Tom Nilsson might also surprise us. All that international competition and a year against adults in the Swedish League where he was a nominee for rookie of the year…he might be farther along than you think.

          I will pay careful attention to Nilsson in the rookie games starting Friday.

  • MaxPower417

    franson isn’t a defensive defenceman… he’s an offensive defenceman who randy carlyle attempts to force him to be something he’s not: overly physical & a defensive defenceman. he doesn’t have amazing speed but he’s pretty mobile for a big guy, can shoot bombs & has excellent passing abilities through traffic.

  • MaxPower417

    Here’s a really interesting document to look at:

    http://stats.iihf.com/Hydra/352/IHM352360_74_5_0.pdf

    In the 2013 IIHF World Championship game against Canada, Granberg played 25:09 minutes.

    That Canadian team included Duchene, Stamkos, Giroux, Eric Staal, Eberle, Taylor Hall,Ryan O’Reilly and PK Subban.

    Granberg played more minutes than Luke Schenn or PK Subban.

    New Leaf Stephane Robidas was one of the few Canadian players with more minutes than Granberg.

    Stuff like that makes me think Granberg could eventually peak as a 4th defenceman and be ok as young guy on the third pairing.