Photo Credit: Clint Trahan
For many European players, making the leap to North America isn't an easy transition.
The pace, the physicality of the game, the ice size, language barriers, cultural differences ... all of these things impact players coming over from Europe. It takes time, hard work and dedication to work though the growing pains.
Markus Granlund appears to be ahead of the curve when it comes to adjusting to the North American game.
The Flames second round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is just 18 games into his first professional season on North American soil and he is already an impact player for the Abbotsford Heat.
He has points in 10 of Abbotsford's first 12 games in November, scoring 7 goals and 11 points in that span. Two of his tallies have come with the man advantage. He has wired 33 shots on net in November and set a single game high on Nov. 9 when he was credited with 6 shots.
Granlund also hasn't shied away from playing in the hard spots or jostling with other players along the boards or in front of the net. He has, seemingly, embraced the physicality. What makes this more impressive is that he doesn't pick up a lot of penalties. He was whistled down for just one minor infraction this month.
"I need to find him more ice to be quite honest with you," Troy G. Ward told CalgaryFlames.com's Heat correspondent Mike Cadarette. "I've got to find him more ice. He's a really good player. He has a great feel for the game offensively. He's learning the game defensively after coming over from Europe. He's learning to play on a smaller rink. There's not as much time and space out there, but he has a great great feel for the game. He has a feel for his teammates. He's more competitive than people realize.
"So I'm the one that's the issue there. I think he's playing well. I think he can play better, but that's on me. I've got to put him with the right people and I've got to find him more ice time. But I'm really proud of him."