The Story of Tyler Graovac
UNRL ATHLETE // MINNESOTA WILD
Nothing ever came easy for Minnesota Wild forward Tyler Graovac. At 22 years old his professional hockey career has been stagnated due to injuries, but he won’t allow that to define him. Growing up in Ontario, hockey was always the forefront of his life. At just 15 years old Tyler was drafted in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) by the Ottawa 67’s. Just like his Wild teammate and UNRL Athlete Matt Dumba, Graovac moved away from home at the age of 15 to pursue his dream of playing hockey.
Although he was drafted by the 67’s, he wasn’t a lock to earn a spot on the team that season. Graovac had to prove his worth throughout training camp, and he did just that. He earned a spot on the roster despite facing the competition of players up to five years older than him. Just after training camp his streak of unfortunate events began... Graovac suffered a broken jaw that sidelined him for two months in his rookie season. The following year it was a broken forearm that caused him to sit in the stands. Although the first two years of his career were disappointing, the Minnesota Wild had already seen enough to know that Tyler could be a valuable piece to the puzzle they were putting together. At 17 years old, Graovac was selected by the Wild in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Unfortunately, following the draft Tyler was again forced to miss ice time due to mononucleosis. After three seasons in the “O”, Graovac knew it was now or never to put up some points and give himself a chance at signing a professional contract. Prior to entering his fourth season in arguably the world’s best junior hockey league, Graovac was determined to have a breakout year. Through an unmatched work ethic, Graovac tallied 38 goals and finished the year with 73 points. The Wild then offered Tyler a contract to make it official.
After a short time with Minnesota's AHL affiliate, Graovac became the Iowa Wild's leading scorer. He made his NHL debut in December of 2014 against the Winnipeg Jets. Tyler finished the season in Iowa with 46 points. Following the 2015 Wild training camp in Minnesota, Graovac accomplished his off-season goal; earning a spot on the opening night roster. However, misfortune would soon strike again.
Graovac suffered an abdominal injury at the Pepsi Center on opening night in Colorado which later required surgery. Tyler continues to stay hungry and motivated to recover from his injuries and return to the game as a better hockey player, just like he has already done so many times in his young career.
Tyler Graovac’s determination is what makes him an UNRL Athlete.