Geek of the Week: Mikael Granlund

by Scott Maran on February 19, 2017

The Geek puts breakout performer Mikael Granlund to the test.

*Stick tap to Ian for the idea for this week’s Geek of the Week*

The Minnesota Wild have made headlines this year as one of the most improved teams in the NHL, soaring up the standings to second place. Just behind the Washington Capitals with 82 points, the Minnesota Wild have been nearly unstoppable with big performances out of many key players. And while Devan Dubnyk should rightfully get most of the spotlight, Mikael Granlund is having himself a fantastic breakout season right before our eyes. However, despite his terrific play for the Wild, is Granlund helping your fantasy team as much as you think? And are his contributions totally sustainable?

Granlund has always been a highly touted prospect, but has had trouble finding success in the NHL earlier in his career. But now this year Granlund has already set new career-highs in goals, assists, and points and the season’s not even over yet. Through 57 games, Granlund has recorded 16 and 35 assists for 51 points, a 73-point pace over a full season. Tied for the eighth-most assists in the league, Granlund’s only one of 18 players to have more than 50 points at this point in the year and has been a surprisingly dominant offensive force. However, does this real-world value transfer well to fantasy hockey?

Using our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, we can easily figure that out. For our sample league, we’ll being using an average 12-team H2H Yahoo league measuring G, A, PPP, SOG, Hits, W, SV%, GAA, and SO with this season’s stats.
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

G

A

SOG

PPP

Hits

Jake Muzzin

73

24

7

11

130

7

112

Radim Vrbata

74

23

11

28

171

13

37

J.T. Miller

75

23

18

28

104

6

73

Mikael Granlund

76

22

16

35

123

14

33

Patrick Maroon

77

22

20

10

133

4

137


Despite having the 18th most points in the entire NHL, Granlund’s fantasy value in standard Yahoo leagues is much less than the actual value he’s been providing for the Wild. Ranked only as the 76th most valuable skater, Granlund is next to names like Patrick Maroon and J.T. Miller while below skaters such as Radim Vrbata and Jake Muzzin. Granlund has the point totals to potentially be a big fantasy asset, but he falls short in other key categories. His shots on goal numbers aren’t dreadful but with only 123 shots in 57 games, the young forward doesn’t even crack the top-100 for the most shots on goal. Not to mention, his hit totals significantly bring down his value, as Granlund’s 33 hits are only the 434th most in the league! Things don’t get much better if you were to swap in penalty minutes for hits (if your league counts PIM). With only six penalty minutes on the season, Granlund is tied for only the 587th most penalty minutes in the league.

His 14 power-play points aren’t bad, but they don’t help him a lot either, as Granlund fails to crack the top-50 and has the same amount of power-play points as Mike Fisher and Matt Moulson. Considering that Granlund is only eligible as a center in some leagues and he gets most of his production through assists (which are more easily replaceable), it makes sense to see Granlund’s value fall to the mid-70s.

But even though Granlund doesn’t have as much fantasy value as we initially thought, it’s also important to ask if even this value is sustainable for him. There are a few reasons to believe that Granlund has been getting a bit lucky this season and might see his numbers drop in the second half of the season.

For starters, Granlund is averaging about the same shot rate as last year, taking around 2.16 shots per game. If anything, it’s slightly up from his shot rate from last year, which is a good sign. However, a low shot rate and a historically low shooting percentage is going to make it harder for Granlund to score. He’s only at 16 goals this season (a 23-goal pace) and that’s with a very high shooting percentage of 13 percent. When over the past three years his average shooting percentage has been exactly 8 percent, red flags start to go up. There’s also the fact that Granlund has seen a drastic reduction in Offensive Zone Faceoffs and his PDO is the highest it’s ever been in his career.

If there’s really any bright spot for Granlund owners, it’s that Granlund has been given a much bigger role this year, seeing his responsibility and his icetime increase. In early years, Granlund had averaged around 17 to 18 minutes of icetime, but this season, he’s been getting over 19 minutes on the top two lines. More icetime means more opportunity to score, and this is probably one of the biggest reasons for Granlund’s increase in production this season.

But even with Granlund’s increased icetime, it will be hard for him to keep scoring goals at his current pace and keeping his on-ice shooting percentage so high. So if we can expect a reasonable amount of regression for Granlund for the rest of the season, where do this leave him in terms of value? Not as good as I thought. This doesn’t mean you should drop him (he’s still picking up a lot of points), but be cautious with him and don’t rely on him too much. He’s a good player and will help your fantasy team, but don’t depend on him to be a superstar.

To identify more players with great value in your specific league settings, check out Fantasy Hockey Geek to generate custom rankings tailored for you. With the Season Toolkit, you can use our advanced tools to manage to the top and take down the title. Head to the Dobber Sports Shop and pick it up today!