TORONTO- Petter Granberg and Stuart Percy aren’t the same make of defencemen.
But the way they play the game has equally impressed their coach in the early part of the AHL season.
“Petter and Stu Percy are flying under the radar, but not with our club and our management,” said Marlies head coach Steve Spott. “I think the two of them are playing hard and competitively. When they fly under the radar they’re doing their job.”
Granberg, who’s 21-years-old, needed to adjust from his time playing in his native Sweden, but recently he has started to show the physical side of his game that Toronto expected him to bring to North America.
“I feel I’ve adapted and getting better every day,” said a soft-spoken Granberg. “I want to be a shutdown defenceman, be hard to play against, that’s pretty much me. I like to play like that.”
At 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds, Granberg isn’t large by any means. However, Spott believes the 116th pick from 2010 has a competitive factor that allows him to play the way he does.
“He’s a hard-nosed player, he makes you battle,” said Spott. “He wants to be a player known to play the other teams’ top players. He’ll be the first to tell you that’s his job.”
A right-handed defenceman, Granberg is currently logging close to 17 minutes a game and by-passed former prospect Jesse Blacker on the depth chart almost instantly. He plays on the penalty kill and is paired with John-Michael Liles even strength, which has helped speed up his development on the smaller ice.
“He’s a great player,” Granberg said of Liles. “He’s great to play with, make it easy.”
While Granberg performs his duties by being physical, Percy will be the first to tell you that isn’t how he’s kept himself in his coach’s good book.
“I’m not over physical, but I can be physical in certain areas in the D-Zone,” said Percy. “Being razor sharp on the ice and using my smarts to my advantage, that’s always been part of my game. Being smart and making a good play.”
The 25th pick from 2011, Percy needed little time to adjust to his first full season of pro in large part to the time he got at the end of last season with the Marlies after his junior year wrapped up.
“Knowing some of the guys from last year I got to play with them and you really see how they worked and you want to carry on their tradition and expectations with the club,” said Percy.
Twenty-year-old Percy has been eating up 16 minutes a game and, unlike Granberg, offers an offensive side to his game. Outside of being able to skate well or make a solid outlet pass, Percy can quarterback the play in the offensive zone and has been a large part of the team’s power-play success.
“Stu, being a first- round pick, he’s playing at a level we need him to,” said Spott.
Even though Granberg and Percy are only at the quarter-pole of their rookie seasons, each have started to find success with their different skill-sets and Spott believes they will each have a bright future with Toronto.
“These guys will be Maple Leafs for a long time.”