ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have sent top prospect Mikael Granlund back to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.
Granlund, the Wild's first-round pick (No. 9) in the 2010 NHL Draft, is playing his first professional season in North America after starring in his native Finland the past three seasons. Adjusting to the speed and size of the ice sheet in the NHL has been an issue for Granlund, as well as playing against bigger and more physical competition.
The highly skilled center has played in 19 games this season, scoring one goal and assisting on five, but has been a healthy scratch each of the past two games and in four of Minnesota's last eight overall.
"Young kids have to play," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "The lineup that we have right now, they deserve to go out there again. As an organization, he's too important to have him sit here and not playing. We need to make sure he's on top his game and to still develop, playing important minutes and playing an important role."
The 5-10, 180-pounder turned 21 years old on Feb. 26. During the lockout, Granlund played in 21 games with Houston, scoring eight goals and 13 assists.
"If you know [Granlund], he's polite, very humble, he's a real good kid. I would say he was understanding, but disappointed," Yeo said. "That's good. I don't think we want people around here that aren't extremely driven and proud. Certainly he is that, but we're also confident that he'll go down and handle it the right way too."