Five days ago, the Minnesota Wild added to an already deep forward talent pool by signing Swedish-born Michael Keranen. He was inked to a two-way contract that is just for the 2014-15 season in hopes that he can continue his dominance in the AHL as he did in the Finnish Elite League.
Keranen, 24, was signed as a free agent after racking up 52 points and a plus-12 rating while playing for Ilves based out of Tampere, Finland. Following a fantastic campaign this season, Keranen was awarded both the Golden Helmet Award as the players’ choice MVP and the Lasse Oksanen regular season MVP Award for his efforts. He has averaged just over a half a point per game during his four seasons with Ilves.
As a 6-foot-1, 176 pound forward, Keranen brings flash and finesse. He may not have the hype or the notoriety of someone like Mikael Granlund, but Keranen’s vision, passing and puckhandling reminded some of the former Finnish phenom that currently plays for the Minnesota Wild.
Obviously there is no one is ready to compare the two players in terms of potential, but Keranen finished last season with more points and assists (35) than Granlund ever did in his three seasons with HIFK, a perennial Finnish Elite League power.
In addition to his passing ability, Keranen can also put the puck on a string. Nicknamed “The Tampereen Datsyuk”, Keranen excelled when he was given space to use his hands. He’s not afraid to try things, and many times it pays off with a dazzling display of talent.
No one is expecting Michael Keranen to come in and have an immediate impact in the NHL. Given the Minnesota Wild’s depth with skilled forwards, Keranen will likely begin and spend the season with the Iowa Wild, where Chuck Fletcher is hoping he can dominate as he did in Finland.
With the core of the Wild likely to stay the same for several years down the road, Michael Keranen will need to be nothing short of outstanding to ever crack the Wild’s top two lines. If he is what the Wild are hoping, he could be used as trade bait in the future to bring in other pieces.
Either way, this is a great move by the Minnesota Wild. This is a low risk, high reward situation with no long-term commitment. And as other teams have experienced, such as the Detroit Red Wings this year, you can never have too much depth at any position.
Click here for other Minnesota Wild related articles