While the jury is still out on first-round pick Jordan Schroeder, the Canucks undoubtedly managed to pluck some solid prospects from the 2009 draft class after the first 30 picks. They selected offensive-defenseman Kevin Connauton as well as skilled forward Steven Anthony in the eighth round. But the real gem from Vancouver’s 2009 draft class is the skater they selected in the second round, Swedish forward Anton Rodin.
A right winger for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League, Rodin tallied seven goals and 26 points in 53 games in 2010-11, his second season in the SEL. Not massive totals, but, to put them in perspective, his teammate Calle Jarnkrok, a highly-touted prospect for the Detroit Red Wings (ranked 41st among non-NHL prospects by The Hockey News) amassed 26 points.
Rodin brings to the ice a pretty comprehensive offensive tool-set. He’s a strong skater with excellent puck handling and puck moving ability. His best offensive season, came in 2008-09 with Brynas’ junior team in which he tallied 29 goals and 26 assists. Those totals haven’t been matched at the senior level, but rare are the Swedish prospects who jump into the senior league with immediate success. Nonetheless Rodin’s performance in 2010/11 was very promising, here’s what his performance would have translated to in a full season of play at the AHL and NHL level (based on Gabe Desjardin’s league equivalency numbers):
|GP||G||A||Pts||AHLE G||AHLE A||AHLE Pts||NHLE G||NHLE A||NHLE Pts|
Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman ranked Rodin as Vancouver’s second best prospect, behind only Cody Hodgson. Pronman projects him as an above-average second line NHLer.
Rodin is an above-average to plus skater that can get to a very desirable top speed and moves pretty freely with a fluid stride. His puck skills are above-average as he has the ability to dangle in open ice, but also can show beyond that at times as he will flash plus ability and spark a highlight reel with his puck-handling ability. He’s a decent playmaker who can spot his teammates and distribute the puck. Rodin has above-average offensive creativity and instincts, as he can certainly process the game well with the puck, usually make good decisions, and doesn’t hurt himself by overdoing it with his hands.
Despite a fine work ethic, Rodin really struggles in the physical game as he can be boxed out of the high percentage areas too easily by bigger defenders and has a ton of physical development left to do.
And Rodin’s physical issues don’t end there. He’s battled shoulder tendinitis, an injury that prevented him from shooting at times during the 2010-11 season and threatens to stall his development. As discussed in this story from the Province, Rodin’s tendinitis could prevent him from making the leap to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, which is where director of player development Dave Gagner wants the Swede to play this season.
Canucks prospect Anton Rodin’s shoulder issues aren’t going to fix themselves, and his motivation to keep playing may well end up keeping him off the ice. Rodin’s shoulder tendinitis is a result of continuing to train and play instead of rehabbing what’s actually a fairly common injury in young athletes. Immature bones aren’t as strong as mature ones, and overuse can lead to painful tendinitis. The treatment? Rest, steroid injections, and physical therapy. This is an injury that could heal in weeks with the proper treatment strategy. Apparently rest isn’t in Rodin’s plans, as this is an injury that plagued him throughout last season in the SEL.
The worst-case scenario would be that he aggravates the area enough to require surgery, leading to a recovery period of as much as six months (depending on what’s injured). Worse yet, shoulder surgery for tendon damage often leaves patients with diminished strength in the joint for years afterwards. It’s hard to say what sort of contribution Rodin might make to the Canucks organization. It’s entirely dependent on whether he continues playing through the injury, or takes the time to let things heal.
As a 20-year-old prospect, the Canucks organization has no reason to rush Rodin without giving the winger ample time to heal from his injury. With Vancouver’s depth on the forward ranks and the team’s status as a Stanley Cup contender, I see no reason for Rodin not to be given time to rehab, as he’s not in the plans to make the big squad for at least another season or two.
Here’s an example of what Rodin can do when he’s healthy and at full-speed. First he uses his speed to create an odd-man situation. He tries to make an inside-outside move on the defender but momentarily loses the puck, which, is picked up by a teammate skating in support. Rodin does well to react quickly, cuts to the inside and looks for the return pass. When he gets the pretty slot feed – Rodin makes no mistake flipping it easily over the sprawling Sodertalje defender for the nice goal… (skip to 1:35 for Rodin’s goal).