Wild's Brodin more than surpasses first impressions

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2013 - 12:50 AM

Jonas Brodin went from sleeper to budding NHL star.

hide

Jonas Brodin played himself into a defensive pairing with Norris Trophy finalist Ryan Suter and led all NHL rookies in average ice time.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Two years ago, Craig Button flew to Sweden to scout the Elite League final.

He wanted to mostly watch Skelleftea defenseman Adam Larsson, who many touted as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft in St. Paul.

“I left there, and I’m going, ‘They’re talking about Adam Larsson going No. 1? He’s not even the best defenseman in his own country,’ ” said Button, a TSN and NHL Network analyst. “I mean, if you’re going to take a defenseman No. 1, go ahead, take a defenseman, but make sure you get the best one.”

Button left Sweden more impressed with a skinny, superb-skating blueliner from Farjestads BK in Karlstad. His name was Jonas Brodin.

“In my estimation, in my view, it wasn’t close between Brodin and Adam Larsson,” said Button, the former Calgary Flames general manager and North Stars and Dallas Stars exec. “Wasn’t close, and I don’t think I’m going to be wrong on that one. And that’s no knock against Adam Larsson. That’s just how good Brodin is.”

Larsson fell to No. 4 and was taken by the New Jersey Devils. Brodin ended up going to the Wild at 10th overall — the third defenseman taken after the Boston Bruins selected Dougie Hamilton the pick before.

Brodin made an instant impact as a Wild rookie last season. As the NHL’s youngest defenseman at age 19, Brodin led all rookies in average ice time per game (23 minutes, 12 seconds) and became Norris Trophy runner-up Ryan Suter’s defense partner the instant he arrived the fourth game of the season in Detroit.

“In training camp, we were all watching him and it was like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ ” Suter said. “Just the way he was moving the puck and the skating, we would ask the coaches, and they’d be like, ‘Yeah, that kid’s going to be here. That kid’s going to be a player.’

“Days later, he was. Me and [Jared Spurgeon] were struggling and then Spurg got hurt, and Brodin came and never left.”

One of the coaches Suter asked about Brodin was Darryl Sydor, an ex-defenseman who played 18 years in the NHL, won two Stanley Cups and also debuted as a 19-year-old. So Sydor knows how hard it is and remembers how many defensive faults he had to correct.

Brodin, on the other hand, arrived polished on the defensive side of the puck.

“We knew how poised he was, but then to see him come and play the minutes that he played with composure, I don’t want to say we were shocked, but it was like, ‘Whoa, there’s a whole other level to this kid,’ ” Sydor said.

Teammates were blown away by how easy Brodin made it look. Even in Saturday’s practice, Brodin routinely swiped the puck off the stick of established NHLers.

“The kid’s got the best stick in the world,” center Zenon Konopka said. “It’s almost like not fair the way he can move and what he adds. For a rookie to be playing against other team’s top lines every night, you don’t hear of that. This kid is going to be a stud, and I’m not saying five years from now. I mean soon.”

Button concurred. “This guy is a brilliant player. He’s so smart, so competitive,” he said. “I think he has a chance to be a real premier defenseman in the NHL, a guy that can control the game. With three years of pro experience now — two in Sweden — as he continues to mature, I have two words: Watch out.”

Brodin’s lone goal this season is to keep getting better and add an offensive element (11 points in 45 games last season) while “playing defense the way I did last year.”

He seems to be coming out of his shell. He talks and laughs more, hangs out with youngsters Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund constantly. He recently got his driver’s license and plans to buy a car (nothing flashy: “I don’t know so much about cars”). He’s felt comfortable enough to divulge the correct pronunciation of his first name, Jonas, is actually with a hard “J” (like Jacques).

“He’s quiet, he smiles, and he just plays the game. Pretty much zero maintenance,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr said.

Suter doesn’t worry about the proverbial sophomore slump with Brodin, saying, “He’s got ice in his veins, he’s humble and not the type that puts himself up on a pedestal.”

Sydor isn’t worried either: “He just goes about his business and Suts has him under his wing, and what a great mentor he has. If Brods follows in his footsteps, he’s going to have a heck of a career.”

  • related content

  • Chart: Wild calendar

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    wild calendarSunday: 11 a.m. scrimmage at Xcel Energy Center, open to the public. Gate 1 will open at 10:45.Tuesday: Preseason...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:07 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 33 2nd Qtr 5:49
Orlando 43
Brooklyn 12 1st Qtr 5:01
Boston 14
Washington 20 1st Qtr 4:09
New York 18
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close