Anton Rodin: The Canucks Secret Weapon

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Among all the talk surrounding exciting forward prospects such as Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and Brendan Gaunce, another intriguing name has arisen, and that name is Anton Rodin. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 entry draft, Rodin hasn’t played in North America since the 2012-13 campaign with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, but looks to be penciled into an NHL spot next season with the Canucks, with the two parties having just solidified a one-year, one-way deal in which Rodin will earn $950,000.

After struggling to develop in the American Hockey League, Rodin left for Sweden, where he played in the SHL and put up relatively solid numbers over the course of the past couple seasons, and was among the league’s elite until injury this year. Despite missing a significant period of time, Rodin was recently named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

When drafted, Rodin was considered a relatively exciting and intriguing prospect, but fell off many radars until this year, when he reestablished himself among the Canucks more NHL-ready and potentially more dangerous young stars. While it remains to be seen how Rodin will adapt to the National Hockey League, it’s possible that he could be a secret weapon for the Canucks next season, and perhaps develop into a solid and consistent scorer for the club.

On a team where many supporters are getting frustrated with a lack of pure skill, and where fans would prefer to see a dynamic one-way scorer to yet another reliable two-way checking forward that could only be described as “safe,” Rodin might be exactly what the Canucks need. With a superb 37 points in 33 SHL games this season, the 25-year-old Swede brings an element that is lacking in Vancouver: Pure scoring. With only the Sedins and Sven Baertschi truly fitting that bill so far this year, Rodin would be a nice change of pace for a team that many would describe as stagnant.

Where¬†Rodin fits into the lineup is a big question. While he most certainly fits the mold of a top-six forward, he may be better utilized on the team’s third line. With the Sedin twins and Baertschi having locks on spots on the first and second lines, the pure skill dynamic of Rodin may seem repetitive on either of the top two forward lines. However, playing on a third line alongside some combination of (likely) Markus Granlund, Emerson Etem, Linden Vey or¬†Virtanen, he’ll get every opportunity to be the go-to scorer, and it will open the door for him to go up against potentially weaker opposition.

On a team that many project to get significantly younger going into 2016-17 – with the likes of forwards Gaunce, Alex Grenier, and defencemen Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin already getting shots at establishing NHL roles – Rodin has fallen below the radar, but certainly shouldn’t for much longer. As much as the organization has been criticized for “playing it safe” at the draft at times, they may just have a hidden gem and a game breaker in Rodin. Former general manager Mike Gillis had his draft record regularly chastised, but it seems like he may have been right with selecting the Stockholm native in the early rounds. Anton Rodin could serve as a secret weapon for the Canucks, and he will certainly be a name worth watching going forward.

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