It was an interesting scene in front of young Jonas Brodin’s locker stall after Minnesota’s practice yesterday. A good selection of microphones and digital voice recorders were arrayed in front of him, including a special invisible one held by Wild teammate Zenon Konopka. Konopka jokingly asked him why the young blue-liner hadn’t brought him his coffee that morning and Brodin blanched for a second, debating whether the Wild tough guy was joking or not. Fortunately for Minnesota’s top defensive prospect, the gloves wouldn’t be dropped and Brodin turned back to the media with a sheepish smile spread across his face; he’ll have to remember to bring Konopka’s coffee tomorrow.
All humor aside, Wild scouts were serious when they saw him play during the 2010-11 season. The young Swede had it all: a decent 6’1” 166-pound frame that could be improved by bulking up some, great wingspan to break up opposing forwards, a great first pass up the ice, flawless skating and was quite sound defensively. The only knock on Brodin’s style of play was that he was hardly a physical or offensive player, but compensated with his exceptional defense. Minnesota Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr and the Wild scouting staff saw this and felt the young man from Karlstad, Sweden was worthy of the 10th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
After playing the next season in Sweden—and playing a key role with fellow Wild prospects Johan Larsson and Johan Gustafsson in leading Sweden to the 2012 WJHC gold—Brodin felt he was ready to play the North American style of game. Had the NHL started its season on time, he most likely would have started the season with Minnesota. Instead, he suited up for the Wild’s minor league affiliate—the Houston Aeros—along with top Wild prospects Mikael Granlund, Larsson, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Brett Bulmer and fellow Wild 2011 1st round pick Zack Phillips. Brodin took to North American ice with a fire in his gut and scored the first goal of the season for Houston. In fact, in his first eight games, Brodin scored two goals and two assists, revealing a tantalizing offensive side of him that very few people had even seen. I’m sure the Wild brass thought this was just the icing on the Jonas Brodin cake.
Then, in a November 2nd game against the Oklahoma City Barons, Brodin was helped off the ice after 2010 1st overall draft pick Taylor Hall slammed him into the glass with a frighteningly hard hit. He would miss nearly 11 weeks with what was labeled an upper body injury. It looked as if not only would he miss a good portion of the Aeros’ season, but the NHL if and when it started up as well. Fortunately for Minnesota’s top defensive prospect, the NHL and NHLPA didn’t come to an agreement until January 6th, and he was almost ready to go. Though he was officially not on Minnesota’s training camp roster, he practiced with the Wild during the team’s abbreviated training camp and didn’t look out of place playing against top players Zach Parise and Dany Heatley in a shutdown defensive role.
It’s been a year and a half since Jonas Brodin was drafted and his exceptional play has only gotten better. He’s added nearly 15-pounds of muscle to his frame, which will help him hold his own against larger, more experience opponents. The young Swede has also refined his offensive game and could be used as Coach Yeo’s secret weapon from the blue line. While his offensive game is certainly improved, that’s not his true style. You’ll know Brodin is on his game when opposing lines are shut down and Minnesota spends much more time in the offensive zone during his shift than in the defensive zone. Jonas will likely be paired with Clayton Stoner and will be used on Minnesota’s second power play unit. I’d buy your #25 Jonas Brodin jerseys fast, because they’ll sell like hot cakes when fans see what’s so special about this young man.