Toronto Maple Leafs – Petter Granberg (D)
Sep 24, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Petter Granberg (8) and Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek (9) battle for position at the Air Canada Centre. Ottawa defeated Toronto 4-3 in an overtime shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
22 years old – 6’3″ – 200 pounds
Drafted: Round 4, 116th overall, 2010
If you remember Petter Granberg at all, it’s probably from his one-game tryout at the end of last year, where he defended a 4-on-1 against the Ottawa Senators. He’s in his second season with the Marlies now after a solid rookie season that saw the stay-at-home defenceman contribute on the penalty kill, chip in seven points and finish +19.
That +/- was far and away the best of the defenceman (the next highest full-time defenceman was Holzer at +5) and was also the best of the team. Granberg uses his size well in front of the net and along the boards, but is far from overly physical.
He’s more of a positional defender who plays his best by not getting caught out of position and getting his stick into lanes. This year there’s been some offensive improvement as he already has six points in 22 games, which would put him on pace for 20 over a full season, though he has already missed time due to injury.
That being said, while Granberg is never going to be a high-scoring defenceman, he can be a capable defensive defenceman who makes strong passes out of the zone and contribute on the penalty kill. His ceiling is lower than Percy or Loov, but if the Leafs are looking to bring up the most defensive defenceman, Granberg could be the one that gets the call.
Granberg is likely an injury fill-in at this point, thought the Leafs are in an obvious state of flux after firing Head Coach Randy Carlyle. The next domino to fall may be the moving of a defenceman, which could create an opening for Granberg at seemingly any time.
He’s never going to wow you and he probably peaks as a third pairing guy, but as a fourth rounder he provides solid depth and is still young enough at 22 that his best years are clearly ahead. He could play another year or two on the Marlies before it’s make or break time.
ANDREAS JOHNSON (LW)
20 years old – 5’10” – 183 pounds
Drafted: Round 7, 202nd overall, 2013
Andreas Johnson may be the most important prospect you’ve never heard of, after being drafted late in the 7th round (the draft only had 211 players). The fast skating winger surprised many last year, when he was named the Swedish Elite League rookie of the year after chipping in 24 points, including 15 goals, in 44 games for Frolunda HC.
He’s got a goal-scorers shot, good hands and plays with energy. He’s followed up his rookie season with 20 points in his first 34 games, including 14 goals.
His success in Sweden has rocketed him up the depth chart and is exactly what you hope for with a late round pick. He’s tied for third on his team in scoring and is a top powerplay threat. His impact on the Leafs is likely still a ways away, which is why he’s below other prospects, but his upside can’t be ignored.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Johnson next season. He may return to Sweden and play another year or he may move over to the Marlies in the AHL and try to assume a top six or even top line job.
The other small sized, offensively driven late round pick the Leafs are excited about is Connor Brown, who is also 20-years old and the leading scorer for the Marlies by a wide margin. The Leafs may have interest in seeing how Johnson will play with Brown, as both have real shots at establishing themselves as third line scoring options in a Mike Santorelli-type role.