On Monday, the Los Angeles Kings announced a trade, sending Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2019 first round draft pick and two prospects: forward Carl Grundstrom, currently playing in the AHL, and defenseman Sean Durzi. Yesterday, we looked at what we can expect from Durzi; today, let’s spend some time with Grundstrom.
Full career statistics, including juniors and international play, can be found on Elite Prospects.
If you were one of the people hoping to pry Kasperi Kapanen or William Nylander out of Toronto in the Muzzin trade, well, I’m sorry to inform you that Grundstrom is not the same caliber as those players.
What kind of player is he, then?
Grundstrom is going to take the puck and he is going to take it to the net, no questions asked. Or he’ll park himself in front of the net to screen the goalie or create opportunities for tips and redirects. Need someone to bully his way through a knot of opposing players? He’s probably going to be your guy.
At just 6’ tall, Grundstrom may be a bit on the smaller side for a traditional power forward, but he otherwise fits the mold of sturdy, physical player who has the courage to battle it out in front of the net.
He can be a bit of a pest, but in a way that doesn’t usually cross over the line into being penalized. Grundstrom doesn’t particularly drive offense—he has relatively few assists in his career and scores most of his goals off the rush or in picking up pucks around the net. But if you put him with players who are equally driven to get to the net, he’ll cash in. He’s not going to be an elite playmaker, and has never been advertised as such, even in his draft year, but what he is is a workhorse who can be a complimentary player on a line with more finesse-type players.
Many Leafs writers compare him to Leo Komarov, but what I’m thinking of when I read all of this is a Trevor Lewis-type player. Grundstrom will probably be best utilized in a bottom-six role, with the potential to fill a spot higher up in the lineup if needs arise. In international play for Team Sweden, he played largely a penalty-killing and checking role, but occasionally moved up in the lineup when the coach looked to change up lines to get different chemistry on the ice.
Not every player is going to be an elite 30-goal scorer. We’d love it, sure, if a team would have handed over a bona fide elite prospect in exchange for a nearly-30 year old defenseman. But alas, Peter Chiarelli is out of a job now, so a Larsson-for-Hall type trade was not on the horizon. You need depth and role players to round out a roster, particularly ones who are cost-effective, and that’s where a player like Grundstrom could come in. What the Kings have picked up in Carl Grundstrom is a player who will work hard, go to the net, and score some ugly goals.
Grundstrom will join the Ontario Reign, who are back in action on Friday, February 1, with an away game against the San Diego Gulls.
What People Are Saying
Pension Plan Puppets:
Grundström is fast, he’s physical, he goes to the net, he works hard, he likes to shoot and has a pretty good shot especially around the net. He has yet to develop a strong reputation for defensive play forward, but seems to have the tools to become one. He might wind up being a slightly better version of Zach Hyman. If he reaches his potential he seems like he could wind up as an effective winger on the Leafs 3rd or 4th line, but seems to lack the high end skill to make him a real top-line player (unless he’s used in a similar role as Hyman has). [Top 25 Under 25]
If you needed one word to describe Grundstrom, it would be that he’s a tank. Honestly. Despite only being six-feet nothing, the Swede is solid as a rock and cannot be moved. His go-to move when he first arrived in Toronto was standing in front of the net and banging in rebounds while his perimeter-shooting linemates took target practice. He was very good at his role, and as he got more comfortable with his new team, we saw some nice additions to his game. [Who Are the LA Kings Getting in Carl Grundstrom]
Carl Grundstrom has the potential to be a top six forward, but in a more complimentary role. Even if his offense doesn’t develop, he has the skating, the physical play, the ability to agitate and the defensive play that teams will find room for. He could find a niche in a grinding role if that offense doesn’t develop. Grundstrom’s style is reminiscent of Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent.
In his rookie AHL campaign (despite being a key part of the championship playoff run this Spring), Grundstrom has picked up right where he left off. He’s racked up 9 points in 8 games, and is seeing good PP time. His shooting rate and PIM rate have decreased from the playoffs, but he remains a do-it-all forward with excellent value in both real life and fantasy. Not too far from NHL consideration.
Will he be elite? I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. But we’re looking at a player well on his way to being a legitimate top-six forward in this league, with an edge to go with it. He’s looking like he’ll become the type of player that not only breaks through his competition but is good enough to make room for just to ensure it. We could be talking about him as a Leaf as early as next season, and that’s exciting.
Grundstrom has an above-average shot that he likes to fire from all areas and angles, sometimes to a fault, as you’d like to see him be a little more patient and creative with the disc. But he’s a power forward who likes to use his body, so expect him to use those strengths to generate offense rather than fancy his way onto the scoresheet.
Grundtsrom doesn’t possess an elite shot or passing ability, but he’s capable in both areas. His main strengths lie in the ability to identify the right areas of the ice to be in, and possessing the strength, skill, and tenacity to get there. He’s also been known to constantly pelt the net with shots from all areas.