Wild's Brodin emerges as Calder candidate

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2013 - 12:13 AM

The Wild’s smooth-skating defenseman is turning heads with his intelligent play and calm demeanor.

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Jonas Brodin of the Wild.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association often look at statistics when voting for end-of-the year awards.

That could hinder Wild teenage defenseman Jonas Brodin’s ability to contend for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. His two goals and three assists in 26 games don’t jump off the stat sheet.

But slowly those around the NHL are starting to become aware of the quiet, star-studded virtues of the youngest defenseman in the league. Paired alongside a Norris Trophy contender and the NHL’s top minute man, Ryan Suter, the 19-year-old Brodin leads all NHL rookies in ice time per game (22 minutes, 26 seconds).

He already is one of the NHL’s most mobile blue-liners and plays a shutdown role on the Northwest Division leaders. Darcy Kuemper, Brodin’s teammate in Houston during the lockout and also with the Wild, says the young Swede has “ice in his veins.”

Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman told Yahoo! Sports recently that in a couple years Brodin and countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes will be “among the top half-dozen defensemen in the league. That’s how good they are.”

Bowman, now a Chicago Blackhawks executive, loves Brodin’s skating, skill and hockey sense.

“That guy’s going to be an unbelievable player,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “His skating ability, the way he can gap up on a guy, just the patience he has and the plays he makes … it’s unbelievable the confidence he has with the puck.

“That guy is going to be incredible player in this league, and he’s already playing great.”

Coach Mike Yeo said he knew Brodin would make an immediate impact two shifts into his NHL debut Jan. 25 in Detroit. Yeo must have been confused because Parise knew on Brodin’s first shift, when he spun away from threatening Valtteri Filppula in his own zone.

“You wouldn’t expect a guy who had [never played an NHL game] to be pulling a spin-o-rama and throwing a backhand in the middle in Joe Louis Arena. You know what I mean?” Parise said.

If you want to get a sense of Brodin’s elite skills, just look back at Mikko Koivu’s winning goal Wednesday in Detroit. After fellow rookie Charlie Coyle made a great play along the wall to backhand a pass to Brodin in the neutral zone, the defenseman exploded to create a 2-on-1 with Parise.

Instead of forcing a pass or trying to unleash a shot, Brodin astutely shot off goalie Jimmy Howard’s pad for a rebound. While the rebound didn’t fall right at Parise’s stick, the Wild’s top-line left winger found the puck behind the net and centered it for Koivu.

One of the most overshadowed parts of Brodin’s game is his being a left shot playing the right side. It’s not easy. That changes angles, makes for unnatural stick positioning and alters turns on the backcheck. It also makes Brodin unable to use his free hand to tie up forwards coming up the boards since his right hand is the top hand on his stick.

Brodin says, “It’s no big deal.”

Having incredible foot speed makes up for that disadvantage because he simply skates. He has taken two obstruction penalties all year.

Monday in Vancouver, Brodin got beat up the ice in the second period after an arguable hold by Alex Burrows. Instead of panicking, Brodin simply hit the jets and flew in from behind to deflect Burrows’ scoring chance into the netting.

Brodin did have some rare tough moments the first half of that game.

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  • Chart: Top NHL rookies

    Friday March 22, 2013

    Calder Trophy ContendersStatistics are through Wednesday’s gamesPlayer G-A-Pts +/- Ice timeJonas Brodin, Wild, D 2-3-5 +2 22:26Cory Conacher, Tampa Bay, C 8-14-22 -3 14:45Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal, C 3-11-14 +9 12:41Brendan Gallagher, Montreal,...

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 0 1st Qtr 7:35
San Francisco 0
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 2nd Prd
Nashville 0
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 47 2nd Half 4:50
North Carolina 72
Long Beach State 12 1st Half 12:55
Western Mich 6
Marquette 7:52 PM
Georgia Tech
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 7 2nd Qtr 4:00
Texas A&M 7
(6) TCU 13 2nd Qtr 6:03
Texas 3
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
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(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
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Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 16 1st Half 3:37
Richmond 21
Oklahoma 7 1st Half 14:34
South Florida 12
Princeton 11 1st Half 12:30
Wake Forest 5
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
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