If there is one area of the Brian Burke era Maple Leafs that has been successful, it has been the creation of a large group of young and talented defenceman in the system at all levels.
From captain Dion Phaneuf and stalwart Carl Gunnarsson on the NHL roster, to young pros Jake Gardiner and Korbinian Holzer looking to break into the NHL, to Jesse Blacker in the AHL, to young draft picks like Stuart Percy, Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn in the CHL, the system is stocked at all levels.
But over in Sweden, the team may have another key defender in the system tucked away. Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft, Granberg has completed two seasons as a teenager in the very competitive Swedish Elitserien League (Sweden's top professional hockey league). The defensive minded defender won't put up big numbers, but provides a steady presence and smart defensive play.
Granberg solidified his place in Skelleftea's lineup this year, and earned an increase in our Top 25 Under 25 up to spot #22.
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Granberg signed his entry-level contract with the Leafs this past summer, but he is under contract in Sweden for one more season, so we will likely need to wait until 2013 to see him. Even then, he will have significant competition from the many young defenders currently working their way through the organization. Plea From A Cat Named Felix was concerned about where Granberg might fit when dropping him out of his list.
I have never seen granberg play a second of hockey. So I don't really know what to expect from him. From what I have read he projects as a more defensive player and those take a while to develop (Luke Schenn, I'm looking at you). Granberg is expected to play the next season in Sweden and will probably get a full season (at least) with the Marlies after that. The addition of guys like Rielly, Finn and Gardiner make it less likely that Granberg will crack the line-up in the next few years. That's why he dropped. More of a change in circumstance than a reflection in his true value.
Especially when dealing with guys playing in leagues we don't get to see a lot, you can see how different people are seeing different things in the information they find. PFACNF sees Granberg's eventual transition to North America as something that might work against him, while birky, who moved Granberg from unranked to 12th, sees his time playing pro in Sweden as an advantage.
Granberg earned rave reviews from (Director of Player Development) Jim Hughes at the prospect camp this summer. He's already a seasoned professional at the age of 19 and when he reports to Leafs camp next summer, he'll have three full years of Elitserien experience. Scouting reports suggest that his skill set is similar to that of Korbinian Holzer, a player who should be a Leaf this year, although Granberg's road to the NHL should be significantly shorter. Both Granberg and fellow Swede Tom Nilsson (21st on my list) are better prospects than they get credit for.