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Granlund Excited for Fresh Start, New Opportunity in Nashville

Predators Forward Determined to Show Offensive Abilities on Consistent Basis

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

It's jarring enough to be traded from one team to another in the middle of an NHL season. Try getting the news when your wife is also going into labor with your firstborn on the way.

That was Mikael Granlund's story in February when he received the call he'd been dealt from Minnesota to Nashville.

After his son was born less than 24 hours after the deal, Granlund took a couple of days to get things in order before he joined his new Preds' teammates gearing up for another late-season playoff push.

The Finnish winger's debut with his new club came on March 1 in Winnipeg, and he recorded an assist, with his first goal coming a few games later. But overall, the production the Predators had hoped for wasn't there - one goal and five points through 16 games - and just one more tally and an assist in six postseason outings.

Granlund would be the last person to find excuses for his tough start with the Preds, but he will also be the first to admit he expects much more of himself.

So now, with the 2019-20 journey underway, Granlund is excited for a fresh start and a full season in Nashville to show what kind of player he truly is.

"I don't think I played [well] at all last year," Granlund said after a recent training camp session. "I mean, obviously I couldn't really produce or anything. That's why it's kind of nice to start here from training camp, just get it going and just start from the beginning of the season. I'm really excited about this."

Video: Mikael Granlund ready for fresh start

The Predators feel the same way, believing Granlund can return right back to the 60-point player he was during his last two seasons in Minnesota, including a career-high 26 goals and 69 points in 2016-17. Soft-spoken, but full of skill, the Preds believe Granlund has the capability to play an integral role among their top-six forward group, and he'll get every opportunity to do so.

"Granny played hard, and he probably didn't get the offense he was looking for [last season], but I can tell you that watching him out here, he looks like he's in really good shape," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said after the first on-ice practice of training camp. "He looks like he's completely dialed in. It's just one day of practice, but I thought he looked really good."

Now a week into camp, Granlund has continued to impress. He saw time on the power play and had a strong showing in Nashville's 1-0 win over Florida on Monday, and he has skated alongside new Preds centerman Matt Duchene on more than one occasion in practice.

When Duchene was signed on July 1, Predators General Manager David Poile expressed his belief that Granlund could fit perfectly alongside Duchene. Whether or not that will be the case on Opening Night remains to be seen, but if the Preds elect to keep their top line of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson intact, Granlund and Duchene could give their club quite a duo.

"The nice part is I've played in this division almost my whole career… and I've seen him in Minnesota hundreds of times, it feels like," Duchene said of Granlund. "Granny is such a good passer and such a good playmaker. He's a guy that works hard, and he can drive a line himself."

"He's a great player," Granlund said of Duchene. "What he's done in this League, it's obviously special. We'll see how we're going to start in the regular season, but for sure it would be fun to play with him."

Not only does Poile envision that as a possible match, but he traded for Granlund for a reason. Even though the offensive potential hasn't been realized in Nashville yet, the GM and his staff continued to receive positive endorsements on the forward even after the season had concluded.

"We had lengthy, end-of-the-year meetings last year… and his name got brought up a lot in a very positive way by multiple players as a guy that they really wanted back on our team, a guy that they felt was hard to play against," Poile said of Granlund. "Now, it just seems he feels like more of a Predator and this is more of his team right now. It can be in a really good situation on a line with say, Duchene, if Lavi keeps that together. I'm as optimistic as I can be that we're going to see the Mikael Granlund that we traded for."

Granlund is just as encouraged as those around him that his next showing in Music City will come with a different storyline, one that ends with him consistently contributing to another postseason run, and then some.

After all, Nashville is starting to feel like home - and when you're home, you can be yourself.

"Everybody is really excited, and we know we can do something special with this group," Granlund said. "We just have to go day-by-day from training camp to the regular season, and you can't go ahead of yourself out there. We have so many good teams in this League, and every single team wants the Stanley Cup. It's a tough task, but I think we have a really good team."

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