When the Vancouver Canucks traded Hunter Shinkaruk in 2016 in exchange for Markus Granlund, most saw it as an immediate win for the Calgary Flames. Shinkaruk was a recent first-round pick and was in the midst of an excellent season for the Utica Comets, with 21 goals in 45 games. A year later, things weren’t as rosy. Granlund went on to score 19 goals and 32 points for the Canucks in 2016-17, and looked like a key piece for the team going forward. Shinkaruk played in seven games for the Flames recording a single point. Now, another year later, things aren’t so lopsided.
Granlund recorded just 12 points in 53 games this season, battling injury and putting up wildly inconsistent performances. His possession statistics fell off a cliff thanks to new head coach Travis Green giving him tough defensive assignments, while his powerplay time saw a huge decline and penalty kill time a huge increase. He had been forced into a new role, one that didn’t afford him much success offensively. Meanwhile, Shinkaruk played the entire season at the AHL level and posted his worst offensive season since his rookie year.
Still, the Canucks have the player contributing in the NHL and now are faced with a decision this summer. Granlund is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, and at age-25 is getting closer and closer to UFA status. Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet spoke with agent Todd Diamond, who claims the team has spoken to him about a short-term deal for his client. A two-year contract would take Granlund to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020, but also might be all the Canucks are willing to commit to a player that doesn’t have a role that suits his game at the moment.
Any deal will likely be a raise on the $900K cap hit Granlund has carried the last two seasons, but it might not be that substantial of one. With the team building around other pieces like Brock Boeser, Adam Gaudette and Elias Pettersson, there’s no clear future for Granlund unless he can turn things around next season. To do that, he’ll have to prove that he can either be an effective checking-line player, or contribute more offensively with the opportunity he’s given.