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Granlund looking to make Calgary a permanent post

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Markus Granlund isn’t the most vocal of individuals.

But when he says he’s feeling as comfortable as he’s ever been at the NHL level, it’s a sign that the 22-year-old has little intention of leaving.

“I think I’m more comfortable when I play more,” Granlund said. “I’m feeling good and it’s fun to be here and play.”

Comfort has helped.

So too does being flanked by Jiri Hudler, who paced the Flames with 76 points last year, and 19-year-old rookie Sam Bennett, 8th in scoring among NHL rookies.

“When I’m playing with Huds and Bennett, it’s easy to play with those guys,” said Granlund, who entered action against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday with 12 goals and 23 points in 61 big-league skates. “It’s fun.

“When you play with those guys, you have to be more offensive, but I still have to be good offensively.

“It’s good news when you play more and with the good guys. You have to make some plays too and be a good player.”

Two of Granlund’s 12 goals have come during his most recent recall.

It’s a natural progression for a player who has gathered more frequent flyer miles than most.

Granlund has been recalled to the Flames roster nine times since the start of the 2013-14 season, yo-yoing between Calgary and stints with Stockton, the Adirondack Flames and Abbotsford Heat.

The time is growing closer for Granlund to prove, permanently, that he can reside in Calgary long-term.

“He’s been real good. We’ve had that talk,” Hartley said. “To Granny’s point, what we discussed with him is when after a few years you get called up and sent down, and called up and sent down, you probably feel that you’re in between the NHL and the AHL.

“But our message to Granny was that you control your destination. Sometimes when you’re a first year guy, there are decisions that are made that are tough to see. At the same time, in his case and where our team is, whoever will help us win and whoever plays well, we will find a spot for them. That was our message for Granny.

“Look at the goals he’s scored. Those are two NHL shots. Defensively he’s strong and he’s skating well with [Bennett] and [Hudler]. They’re forming a pretty good line for us.”

But for how long?

It’s a question likely answered next week.

Granlund has slotted himself ahead of healthy scratches Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris in the past week, but the dynamic changes when forward Lance Bouma, whose activation from the injured reserve is around the corner.

“We’ll cross that river when we get there,” Hartley said.

Granlund can do the math, though.

And as the only one who doesn’t need to clear waivers in order to facilitate a move back to Stockton, he’s the easiest assignment in getting back to a 23-man roster.

The 23-year-old, though, thinks he can stay.

“I think I have to play like I’ve been playing the last two or three games,” Granlund said. “I know that I can play here and I just have to keep it going.

“I knew it before that I can play here. I just have to be myself and do what I can.”

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