Petter Granberg has returned to the Nashville Predators after completing his two week (fourteen consecutive days) conditioning assignment with the Milwaukee Admirals yesterday.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (December 22, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Tuesday that the club has recalled defenseman Petter Granberg (PEH-tuhr GRAN-buhrg) from his conditioning assignment with Milwaukee (AHL).
Granberg, 23 (8/27/92), posted an assist and four penalty minutes during his six-game stint with Milwaukee, helping the Admirals to a 4-2-0 record. Claimed on waivers on Nov. 22, the 6-foot-3, 201-pound blueliner has eight career NHL games to his credit with the Maple Leafs (0 pts, 6 penalty minutes) and 132 AHL games (3g-20a-23pts, 62 penalty minutes) since his first North American professional season in 2013-14. Prior to crossing the Atlantic, Granberg split time between Skelleftea’s Swedish Hockey League and Junior League teams, winning an SHL title in 2013, and earning silver medals in 2011 and 2012.
Toronto’s fourth selection, 116th overall (fourth round), in the 2010 Entry Draft, Granberg helped team Sweden win the 2013 World Championship (along with Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok) and the 2012 World Junior Championship (along with Predators forward Filip Forsberg), as well as earning a silver medal at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship.
Granberg had missed the start of the 2015-16 season due to an injury and he was claimed on waivers by the Predators from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in late-November before getting a conditioning assignment with the Admirals to reintroduce him to game action. He played a total of six games during the fourteen consecutive days he was allowed to play for the Admirals, had a plus/minus rating of +1, recorded a total of 4 penalty minutes, and picked up an assist.
I wasn’t honestly too familiar with Granberg despite his run with the Toronto Marlies the past two seasons. I chalk that up to his style of play being a stay at home defenseman whose work can often go unappreciated unless you watch that type of player go to work in-person. I was a massive fan of Joonas Järvinen for that reason. And I actually see similarities between the two with one or more differences. The biggest of which was how unbelievably strong Granberg is. His highlight moment for me was seeing him throw Manitoba Moose forward Patrice Cormier to the ice as they jostled for position upon zone entry for a Moose offensive push. Cormier is 6’2″ and 216 lbs. He has the weight advantage on Granberg but it didn’t matter at all. The Swede gave him a shove, knocked him down, made it look effortless, and shutdown an attack all by himself.
What comes now is the biggest question of all. It’s really the question I had once the Predators claimed Granberg. Now what? Well, the Predators put Victor Bartley through waivers and he cleared to reach the Admirals. Anthony Bitetto was odd-man out as the seventh defenseman for the Predators. And now Granberg returns to the Predators to give them their previous and unnecessary eight defensemen on the active roster with two set to be healthy scratched on a nightly basis.
Is Granberg polished enough to be an NHL defenseman? Not at this current fork in the road for him he isn’t. Granberg has eight games of NHL experience to this point. For his first game back from a long layoff due to injury the Admirals dressed an extra defenseman to lessen the blow on him. The next five games the training wheels were taken off and it wasn’t really until the last two games when he started looking comfortable. Is he potentially NHL quality? I think he can be. Right now? He’s in need of continued game time to get back in stride.
If there were an injury in Nashville to a right handed shooting defenseman and the option was Bitetto or Granberg I would feel slightly more confident in what Bitetto would provide than Granberg at this moment. That’s not a knock on Granberg’s ability it’s just the reality of his season right now. Bitetto is ready and waiting. Granberg has simply been waiting all season to get into any sort of a game to get rust off. Two weeks and six-games just to sit on the sidelines to wait for an injury before getting into a game doesn’t exactly make sense to me for the 23-year old. He should be playing. And, like Bartley and Bitetto before him, I sense cobwebs and dust collecting are in his outside looking in future. Playing practice at the NHL level getting NHL level money versus continued development and playing time in the AHL to earn an eventual playing role in the NHL. That’s the challenge and I doubt there is a harder NHL defensive corps to break into than Nashville’s.
Is a trade afoot? Who knows. But this Granberg story is now right where it arrived. Eight active defensemen in Nashville. Two healthy scratches per game. Rise. Repeat.
What will happen to Petter Granberg? Do you think the Predators should attempt to send Bitetto or Granberg through waivers? At some point will the Predators dip into their defensive surplus to make a trade for a high-end forward?