It’s never a good look when a goalie has similar offensive numbers to a forward.
Yet that’s the situation Markus Granlund found himself in. Recording just 4 points in 34 games, Granlund now finds himself on the scoring chart just above Mike Smith, who recorded two assists in 39 games.
Expectations were never astronomical when Granlund arrived in Edmonton after signing a modest 1-year, $1.3 million deal after spending four seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. But after being brought in to help with secondary scoring and not being able to produce, the forward was cleared waivers in late December.
There are now rumours that the 27-year-old is expected to sign with Ufa in the KHL.
Those four seasons leading up to signing with the Oilers had established Granlund as a reliable depth scorer in the NHL. Granlund was drafted 45th overall in 2011 by the Calgary Flames, and he came to the NHL from Finland in 2013-14, while still jumping between the AHL and NHL for a couple years. He finally managed to establish himself as a full-time NHL’er in 2016-17 after being traded to the Canucks. In those three full-time seasons, Granlund put up 66 points in 199 games.
So when he was brought it, it was clear his role was going to be to provide some scoring depth to the middle-six, something the Oilers have needed for a long-time now. There was even speculation that he would play on the second line at wing behind Leon Draisaitl.
Unfortunately for Granlund, he struggled heavily during those 34 games, recording only 4 points and playing just 10:50 minutes a night, including a measly 9:36 at even-strength. Only Colby Cave and Gaetan Haas saw less ice at 5-on-5.
After clearing waivers, Granlund was actually pretty good with the AHL Bakersfield Condors, putting up 15 points in 20 games. Even so, a look at Granlund’s advanced stats (thank you ChartingHockey.ca) don’t make a strong case for the Oilers to re-sign him even if he decides to stay in North America.
Out of all Oilers forwards who played at least 200 minutes, Granlund had the second-lowest points-per-60-minutes with 0.759, behind only Patrick Russell. Not a great place to be for a player who was supposed to provide stable, reliable secondary scoring.
While some of his advanced stats, including his expected goal differential, show that he’s a fine player, the Oilers didn’t bring Granlund in to just be fine. All four of Granlund’s points came in a nine game stretch in October, and then the forward proceeded to go two months without a single point.
Add the fact that the depth chart is starting to look a little crowded on the wings, and it becomes evident that Granlund is not in the long term plans for the Oilers (although waiving him in December made that fact pretty clear.) Kailer Yamamota was called to the NHL the day-after Granlund was waived and basically filled the role (and much more) that Granlund was supposed to fill.
Granlund was set to become a UFA at the end of this season, and at the level he was producing, Edmonton might just be better off trading for bottom-six help or taking a flyer on a different UFA. The team might even look to see if prospects Tyler Benson or Raphael Lajoie are ready to make the jump to a bottom-six job in the NHL.