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Reports: Predators surprisingly bring back Mikael Granlund

Reports: Predators surprisingly bring back Mikael Granlund

SAINT PAUL, MN - MARCH 3: Mikael Granlund #64 of the Nashville Predators looks on against the Minnesota Wild during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on March 3, 2020 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Cross off one of the last big names on the list of NHL free agents. Mikael Granlund is off the market, and to a surprising (but familiar) location, as the Nashville Predators signed him for one year at $3.75 million.

(Note: the Predators didn’t confirm that one-year, $3.75M contract for Granlund. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported it first, while The Athletic’s Adam Vingan backed that up.)

Predators reportedly sign Mikael Granlund: one year, about $3.75 million

After the Kevin Fiala trade, Granlund struggled to make much of an impact. He closed 2018-19 with just a goal and four assists for five points in 16 games. Granlund rebounded slightly in 2019-20 (17 goals, 30 points in 63 games), but didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard. (That was particularly true during two quiet, short playoff runs with the Predators.)

Now, Granlund didn’t qualify as a full-fledged disaster for the Predators ... unless you compared him to an ascendant Kevin Fiala.

Instead, Granlund’s been a bit drab, and middle-of-the-road. Beyond middling production, his five-on-five impact was merely palatable. Looking at his 2019-20 RAPM chart at Evolving Hockey almost forces out a yawn:

Granlund RAPM chart

Heading into 2020 NHL Free Agency, many believed that Granlund could be a diamond in the rough. Yet, in many of those cases, people pictured a rebound thanks to a change of scenery.

Instead, Granlund and the Predators are giving this another try. That’s perfectly reasonable, really, as the Predators can hedge their bets a little bit. Losing Craig Smith could sting, especially if Eeli Tolvanen cannot take a step forward.

When you get this deep into an offseason, you almost take deeper discounts for granted. To some extent, a one-year deal in the $3.75M might not be a hyper-bargain.

Then again, Granlund carried a $5.75M cap hit and $6.5M salary in 2019-20, so this is at least a drop in price.

Perhaps the third time will be the charm for Granlund and the Predators, then?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.