Opportunities sometimes come few and far between. Tyler Graovac may have one of the biggest opportunities of his life staring him right in the face, the opportunity to start this NHL season up with the big club.
Tyler Graovac grew up in Brampton, Ontario, a city 20 miles west of Toronto. Standing at a towering 6’4” 205 pounds, Graovac is big body with a physical presents that is hard to miss on the ice. He played his junior hockey with the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL, where many NHL scouts ignored him because they said he would never have the speed it takes to play in the NHL. The Minnesota Wild gave Graovac an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. After a long wait in the 2011 NHL draft, the Wild selected him with the 191st pick in the seventh round. Graovac knew his hard work was far from over if he ever wanted to make it to the NHL.
Fast-forward to the next two seasons, Graovac played in the AHL with Iowa Wild. He tailed 71 points (34 goals, 37 assists) in his first two seasons, including a career high, 46 points last year, which earned him three games in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild.
As training camp started this year, many believe Gravoac was a long shot to make the big club but with just seven days until the NHL season starts, it looks like he is on his way to earning an opening day roster spot. Now, 22 years old, Graovac has an opportunity of a lifetime knocking at his door. With the help of some injuries from Justin Fontaine and Jordan Schroeder, he has found himself centering the Wild’s third line with Charlie Coyle on the right and Thomas Vanek on the left. Graovac effort to improve has impressed many as training camp goes along; he seems to be turning many of his doubters into believers.
A seventh rounder turned into an opening night third-liner in just two season has many people wondering how 190 prospects were drafted before him.
The Wild have just finished their team bonding outing in Duluth with a practice at Amsoil Area. Tomorrow night, they will be taking the ice for their final preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres, who have the best record in the East during the preseason. Many eyes will be on the young superstar Jack Eichel, but for Minnesota fans they will be focus on their own rising young talent Tyler Graovac. To see if he can improve his mobility and become that two-way bottom line center that the Wild are looking for to fill their roster.
Graovac may not stay at the NHL for long but getting this opportunity to start the season at the NHL level is something he’ll never forget. If anything it’ll keep him wanting more. Graovac will need to be a grinder and maybe even use his huge frame as an enforcer if he wants to stay in the NHL. If not, another year of development in the AHL wouldn’t hurt but now, congrats to the big boy from Brampton on his opening night roster spot.