Minnesota Wild 2010 first round pick Mikael Granlund plans to play for the AHL's Houston Aeros rather than return to his homeland Finland if the NHL puts a lockout in place, as Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press reports. Granlund's agent, Todd Diamond, believes that the 20-year-old would benefit from playing in Houston:
There's basically nothing left to accomplish [in Finland]. By playing in Houston, [Granlund] would be getting used to the American style of play and the size of the rink, which is larger in Europe. If there is no [labor] agreement, he would be better off in Houston.
Last year, Granland was voted the ice hockey player of the year in Finland after earning 51 points in 45 games with IFK in Helsinki. As Walters notes, Granlund's salary will drop substantially from $810,000 to $67,500 if he plays for the Aeros instead of the Wild, although he'll receive a $90,000 bonus if he plays for either team this season.