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Granlund, Wild hope to reach next level this season

'I really want us to make a deeper playoff run,' center says after agreeing to three-year contract

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Correspondent

When center Mikael Granlund agreed to terms on a three-year, $17.25 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, he did so not only with an eye on his future, but on the Wild's future as well.

"I think there's always some room to improve," Granlund said Wednesday. "I think the biggest thing is to, as a team, I really want us to make a deeper playoff run … I think we have a really good group of guys and we can [cause] some damage in the playoffs.

"Professionally, that's my biggest goal is to help the team succeed so we can make something special happen next year. I'm real excited [and] just happy we got this done. I'm happy with my contract (average annual value $5.75 million) … and I'm really happy I get to stay here in Minnesota and help improve the team."

Granlund, 25, had a breakout season in 2016-17. Playing on Minnesota's top line with fellow Finland native Mikko Koivu, Granlund led the Wild in scoring with an NHL career-high 69 points, tied for the fourth-most in a season by a Minnesota player since 2009-10. 

Video: Minnesota inks Granlund to three-year deal

Granlund also led the Wild with an NHL career-high 43 assists and ranked second in goals behind center Eric Staal with 26 (another NHL career high). Granlund was plus-23, had 20 power-play points, three shorthanded goals and four game-winning goals in 81 games last season. 

He set a Wild record with a 12-game point streak (five goals, 12 assists) from Jan. 12-Feb. 4, including his first NHL hat trick on Feb. 4 in a 6-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. Granlund ranked 19th in scoring in the NHL and was nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy.

"Mikael has been an important part of our club for the last five years, and he showed a great amount of growth with an impressive performance last season," general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. "People across the League are now surely aware of what our management group has always known: Mikael has a tremendous level of talent and skill. Coupled with his excellent work ethic and tremendous character, we know he'll play a large role in the future success of our team, and we're thrilled to have him under contract moving forward."

Adding to the Wild's depth are center Tyler Ennis and forward Marcus Foligno, who were acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres for forward Jason Pominville and defenseman Marco Scandella on June 30. 

Granlund said the confidence shown in him by Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was also a factor in his decision; he averaged 18:49 of ice time last season, second to Koivu (19:06) among Minnesota forwards. 

"I think for any player … one of the key things to have a good season is to have the [confidence from] the coach," Granlund said. "I think [under Boudreau] we improved a lot as a team and individually too. He gave me a lot of responsibility and I think I took a step as a player as well. It's been great and hopefully we can keep that going next year and get even better."

Video: MIN@COL: Granlund picks the corner from sharp angle

Selected by Minnesota with the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Granlund has 201 points (57 goals, 144 assists) in 321 games. He missed one game last season and played in all 82 games in 2015-16.

The Wild avoided an arbitration hearing twice this week; Minnesota agreed to terms with forward Nino Niederreiter on a five-year, $26.25 million contract (average annual value $5.25 million) on July 30. Granlund was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Friday.

Foligno is the Wild's only remaining restricted free agent.

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