Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others.
So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:
Jonas Brodin, D, Age 20
Remaining contract (per capgeek): 1 year, $894,000 (RFA in 2015)
Games: 79 (Regular Season) 13 (Playoffs)
Goals: 8 (Regular Season) 0 (Playoffs)
Assists: 11 (Regular Season) 2 (Playoffs)
+/-: Even (Regular Season) +3 (Playoffs)
PIM: 22 (Regular Season) 12 (Playoffs)
ATOI: 23:54 (Regular Season) 23:38 (Regular Season)
What Did He Do?:
Brodin offers us an interesting case study in how an athlete is perceived. One year ago, Brodin was our defensive version of Mikael Granlund, a young, Scandanavian savior, with a limitless future ahead of him. We’d heard all about his amazing skating ability, his reputation of playing against grown men in Sweden at the age of 17 (and holding his own, if not excelling) and shutting down fellow top prospects each night while helping Sweden claim the World Junior title. He drew comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom, because he was Swedish, smart, played defense and could skate like the wind.
Fast forward to the end of his second season, and we’ve got questions. Why hasn’t he scored more? Why isn’t he more aggressive? Why did he get bumped off the top defensive unit? What happened to him in the playoffs? WHY ISN’T HE THE NEXT NICKLAS LIDSTROM?!!!!!
Let’s take these in order. First, the scoring. True, his pace isn’t any better than his rookie season. He played roughly twice as many games, and scored…roughly twice as many points. Furthermore, he scored just six points after January 1st, not counting his two assists in the playoffs. That in and of itself should provide an indicator as to what went wrong. This season marked the first time in his career he had ever played more than 49 games in a season (either here or in the Swedish Elite League). Adjusting from that to over 90 games in a campaign is an adjustment that can only be acclimated to through experience. Now that Brodin has that experience, he knows what he must do to adjust. Another thing to keep in mind regarding Brodin is that for all of the good things he did in Sweden, one thing he never did was score. That’s right, zero career goals in 94 career games* and only 12 assists, to boot. Of course he was young, and obviously his offense will come, but we aren’t talking about Duncan Keith here.
Question 2- Aggression. Get used to it. Brodin has never been a physical presence. He hits how he looks, which is roughly akin to a shy librarian. His game has always been about footwork, and will continue to be so.
Question 3- The demotion. Not really a demotion, as this seemed to be more about the chemistry between Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon than Brodin. Besides, given the complimentary ways that he and new partner Marco Scandella play the game, they could be a great pair. Scandella can provide the steady defensive play and the knuckles while Brodin is allowed to be more adventurous moving forward.
Question 4- The playoffs. See question 2. If Brodin was wearing down during the end of the season, he didn’t suddenly reanimate for the post-season. It showed. Brodin took 12 penalty minutes in thirteen games (though they all came in three separate contests, to be fair) and all of them came on stick-related infractions. He took three hooking minors, one high-sticking minor and one double-minor for high-sticking. For a player who is supposed to be a great skater to take so many penalties that only occur when you stop moving your feet in such a short time tells me he’s a step off the pace. Again, a big learning experience for a young player. He can use it moving forward.
Question 5-Why isn’t he the next Nicklas Lidstrom? Because this question is stupid. There will never be a next Nicklas Lidstrom, and the man on the Wild who comes the closest is Suter, not Brodin. Jonas could go on to be a 15-time all-star in the NHL and never get near Lidstrom’s body of work. Let us never make this comparison again, with anyone.
What to Expect if You’re Expecting: Expect steady progression and remember that Brodin is twenty-freaking years old and plays a position at which players generally don’t reach their best until age 25 or so. Perhaps the best thing we can do is learn how to put the term “special player” in context. We heard how special Mikael Granlund was for years, only to freak out when he needed time to adjust to the NHL. Brodin, on the other hand, never needed that adjustment, jumping straight into a top-pair role on a team that made it to the playoffs. Brodin is a special player, but sometimes even special takes time.
Trade Prospects?: Any team in the NHL would kill for Brodin. Those are the players you keep.
Season Highlight: 99.5% certain this isn’t him, but this is someone on Youtube calling themselves “Jonas Brodin” who does a pretty serviceable job on drums for Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Maybe it is him and he has other talents. Dammit, this kid is really special!:
If you like your highlights to actually be highlights, here’s his first goal of the season, on opening night. More of this, please:
*Full disclosure, Brodin did have two goals in the playoffs for Farjestads in 2011.