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Wild first round draft pick Jonas Brodin pulls on his Wild jersey.

Marlin Levison, Dml - Star Tribune

Swedish defenseman is Wild's top pick

  • Article by: DAVID La VAQUE and MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • June 25, 2011 - 1:21 AM

Wild assistant general manager Brent Flahr said he believes defenseman Jonas Brodin, selected 10th in Friday's first round of the NHL draft, will improve the team sooner rather than later.

Brodin, ranked third by the NHL's Central Scouting Service among European skaters and the fourth native of Sweden selected in Friday's first round, measures 6-1 and 170 pounds. He anticipates playing one or two additional seasons in Sweden while getting bigger and stronger. With a nod to Brodin's strong hockey sense, Flahr thinks one season might be enough.

"I'm not going to put any limits on him," Flahr said. "He's a terrific skater who has a terrific mind for the game."

Brodin posted four assists and 12 penalty minutes in 42 games in the Swedish Elite League last season for Farjestad. He had two goals in 14 playoff games. He was also part of Sweden's national team that won a silver medal this year at the Under-18 world championships.

"I'm a mobile two-way defender with good skating and good in both zones," Brodin said. "I like to bring the puck and follow the rush to the offense."

Veteran scout Grant Sonier watched Brodin in his native Sweden and noted the youngster's poise.

"He's an exceptional puck retrieval and transitional defenseman," Sonier said. "He has the ability to process pressure and make an excellent first pass. This player was considered to be a top pick in my mind the last few years."

Brodin's stock rose not long after getting drafted as the Wild announced a trade that sent defenseman Brent Burns to San Jose for forward Devin Setoguchi, 2010 first-rounder Charlie Coyle and the Sharks' 2011 first-round pick (28th overall), which the Wild used to select Zack Phillips.

Shane Malloy, author of "The Art of Scouting" and host of Hockey Prospects Radio on NHL Home Ice, said Brodin's upside is substantial. "He got better throughout the year," Malloy said. "He's a smart, puck-moving defenseman. He uses the ice well. He frees the puck very quickly, can turn and look up the ice and hit a forward or get it to a defenseman before the forecheck gets in. I think we've seen in this NHL that's a very valuable asset to have."

Makings of a bond

Wild 2010 first-round pick Mikael Granlund, in town to watch his brother, Markus, get drafted Saturday, is growing close with captain Mikko Koivu, which has to be music to the ears of team brass.

Koivu and Granlund are serving in the Finnish Army together. They sleep on bunk beds inside the same barracks, make beds, shoot guns, recently lived in tents for three nights in the woods and are just "learning to do Army stuff."

"He's a great guy," Granlund said of Koivu. "I need to learn from him. He's a great player and great leader, so there's much to learn from him."

In the Army, both are privates, and Granlund said Koivu doesn't act any differently than the other soldiers.

Granlund and Koivu were teammates on Finland's world championship team last month. More than 100,000 Finns flooded Helsinki for the party of a lifetime after Finland won. During the celebration, Koivu -- Finland's captain -- grabbed President Tarja Halonen and danced with her.

"It was a great moment," Granlund said.

Etc.

• Darcy Kuemper, the Canadian Hockey League goalie of the year who expected to begin his Wild career in the minors next season, was ecstatic to watch his Red Deer teammate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, go first overall to Edmonton. "It was awesome getting to play behind him," Kuemper said. "Some of the stuff he does out there makes you drop your jaw."

• Owner Craig Leipold's son, Fordy, and GM Chuck Fletcher's daughter, Kaitlin, were the Wild's draft-table runners.

• To honor the late Derek Boogaard, the New York Rangers had former Wild draft pick Aaron Boogaard select the No. 15 pick (J.T. Miller). He received a standing ovation and a loud, “BOOOOOOG.”
 

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