ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund has been dealing with high expectations his entire life.
The 22-year-old center began his professional hockey career at age 16 in his native Finland and quickly became a household name. The Wild made him the ninth player selected at the 2010 NHL Draft. Granlund's hockey exploits are easy to follow; all you have to do is type his name into the search box on YouTube and any number of his highlights will pop up.
Center - MIN
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 34
SOG: 84 | +/-: 0
Granlund is perhaps best known for his lacrosse-style goal against Russia in the semifinals of the 2011 World Hockey Championship, which made him an instant internet sensation. Back home, the goal turned Granlund from a successful hockey player into a national rock star. It wasn't uncommon for paparazzi to follow Granlund out to dinner or shopping.
That's a lot of pressure for anyone to face, especially for a shy 19-year-old kid from Oulu, Finland, who would rather go about his business in the shadows. The normal pressures of being a high first-round draft pick are nothing compared to those in hockey-mad Finland, where fans are always on the lookout for the successor to Teemu Selanne, the 43-year-old Anaheim Ducks star and pride of an entire nation.