The 2011 NHL Draft is almost here, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. The Draft is, in my opinion, the official kick-off party for an off-season that is always a lot of fun. After the draft comes the start of free agency as all of the 30 NHL teams jockey to land the biggest fish, to plug the necessary holes and to make themselves better than they were last year.
Next up in my player profiles to get you ready for Friday’s draft is a Swedish defenseman by the name of Jonas Brodin. Reader Helm4Life asked me to do a profile of this player for them (sweet screen-name by the way), so here it is.
If any other readers want me to profile a certain player before the draft for them, I most certainly will. For example, gfa5eat wanted to see what I had to say about Tomas Jurco, who recently captured the Memorial Cup with the Saint John Seadogs. Jurco is one of four Seadogs expected to go in Round One of the draft.
Also, I will be doing a profile on each and every player the Wings select in the draft.
Any time you have a topic you wish to discuss, you can leave me a comment here on any of the articles at The Off Wing View, or by commenting on the thumbnail link on the Detroit Sports Nation Facebook page, or by following me on Twitter and shooting me a message there. You can also follow Detroit Sports Nation on Twitter for news, commentary and other features.
Now, on to the missing Jonas brother!
…I’m just kidding, if the Wings do end up drafting him, that would be an awful nickname. Although if he plays for someone else, have at it.
When doing my research on Jonas Brodin, and on any prospect, the first thing I usually look at is their vitals. By that I mean, how tall is he? how much does he weigh? and what is his handedness?
Size and being a right or left shot aren’t nearly the only things that go into evaluating a player, but it helps to give you a sense of what you’re looking at. For example, if I was evaluating Northeastern College defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak, it would help to know that he is the biggest player in the draft at nearly 6’7″ and over 240 pounds.
Brodin is 17 years old, and a native of Karlstad, Sweden. Karlstad’s claim to fame is producing the first ever Swedish NHLer, Ulf Sterner. There’s a little bit of trivia to stump your friends with.
Brodin’s size is a bit of a concern, as he is only 6’1″ and 165 pounds, but picking undersized Europeans has never been an issue for the Red Wings before.
Brodin may not get to the Red Wings, who don’t pick until 24th overall, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie has him ranked as the 10th best prospect in the draft. In fact, Brodin has hovered between the 2nd and 4th highest ranked European skater all year long. Adam Larsson has been the consensus number one from start to finish, while Brodin, Joel Armia and Mika Zibanejad have all moved around in the next three spots. As it turned out, the Central Scouting Bureau had Larsson number one, Zibanejad two, Brodin three and Armia four at the end of the season, which jibes with what McKenzie has to say as well.
It’s worth noting that McKenzie has him going so high, because his sources are excellent, and he has a knack for correctly identifying the players that will be taken in the first round. If he is putting Brodin that high, it is a virtual certainty that he will go in Round One. That’s not to say he’ll go 10th, 15th or even 20th, but he will be gone at some point on Friday night when the first round takes place.
Will he slip all the way to #24 where the Red Wings pick, and if he does, will the Wings take him there? We’ll have to wait until Friday to find out. Until then, here’s all you need to know about Brodin.
When I was doing my research on him, a handful of words and descriptors kept leaping off the page at me. Every single scouting report on the kid had the same things to say.
That right there speaks volumes to how incredible Brodin’s hockey sense is, when he is seen as mature and poised while playing as a 17 year old in one of the top league’s in Europe, the Swedish Elitserien. In just his first season of play in the Elitserien, Brodin helped guide his team to successfully capturing the championship.
Brodin will be a player to watch for the next several years in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, my favorite tournament of the year. He, along with fellow 17 year old Farjestads rookie Oscar Klefbom helped guide Sweden to a silver medal at the U18 tournament in April.
Brodin’s style of play has been compared to Tomas Kaberle. No, not that he will get physically beaten on every game and cough up awful turnovers. More for the fact that he is not flashy and doesn’t possess a cannon shot, but is an excellent passer and set-up man. I think this is a tremendous comparison. Neither is particularly apt to shoot the puck, preferring instead to dissect defenses with crisp puck movement.
I’ve also seen his mental game compared to that of Nicklas Lidstrom. Yeah, that Nick Lidstrom. Remember the mature, poised game I was talking about earlier? Some scouts have gone so far as to compare his cool, calm demeanor to the greatest Swedish defenseman of all time.
Like many Swedish defensemen his age (including Larsson and Klefbom), Brodin’s favorite player is Nick Lidstrom.
Lidstrom is probably the hardest player in the world to beat one on one, because no matter what you do he has an answer for it. If you try to stickhandle around him, he can pokecheck with the best. If you want to beat him with speed, he’ll take a better angle than you and get there first. If you give up on beating him and just try to chip it around him and go get it later, he’ll knock it straight out of the air, and more times than not it’s back to a teammate of his going the other way for a scoring chance.
Brodin has been lauded for a similar ability for being nearly impossible to beat in such a situation. He also shares a distinction with Lidstrom in that, when under pressure, they don’t just hammer the puck out of the zone off the glass and cause an icing. Generally, they are able to weather the storm and make a smart, safe pass to a teammate.
I can also find similarities to another (former) Red Wing, Brian Rafalski, in that both are undersized for their position, but can hold their own defensively. Rafalski was the subject of criticism at times in Detroit when a much larger opponent would beat him in a puck battle, but Rafalski always battled hard and won more than his fair share. He would also always take a hit if it meant he could make the outlet pass to a teammate, a quality that Brodin has proven so far as well.
With that being said, there are some questions about how much upside he actually has, which is rare for a player ranked in the top 10. For all of the players ranked ahead of him, their upside is obvious. They can, and probably eventually will, be game-breakers.
Brodin doesn’t seem to have that ability in his game. He will very likely be a very, very solid player for whatever team he ends up playing his professional hockey for, but whether or not he will be an elite level defender remains to be seen.
Some scouts see him as a future top pairing defender (like Kaberle, Lidstrom and Rafalski), while others don’t think he will ever be more than a quality bottom four defender (one site has him compared to the New York Islanders Andrew MacDonald).
He has not yet put up a ton of points anywhere he has played, but neither did Kaberle or Lidstrom prior to being drafted. He may not ever be a huge point producer at the NHL level, but he will likely be able to anchor a second power play unit eventually due to his supreme hockey sense, mobility and passing ability.
I have strong doubts he will go as high as the 10th pick overall (which, for the record belongs to the Minnesota Wild), and with the glut of talented players in the middle of the round, he could fall into the Wings lap at 24th.
Like I said though, there will be a number of very talented players available when the Wings do get to make a selection. The Wings certainly have proven that they are willing to take a player such as Brodin and give him all the time he needs to develop overseas. Would Brodin be the latest gem pulled out of the Swedish ranks for Ken Holland and Co?
Find out with me on Friday as I live-blog the NHL Entry Draft!