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.
Wild's Brodin more than surpasses first impressions
Minneapolis Star Tribune | Sep 15