The Vancouver Canucks have come to terms with Swedish forward Anton Rodin of Brynas IF. Here’s how he fits in with the team.
Nobody would argue the fact that the Vancouver Canucks need scoring. Behind the Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, there is not much there at the moment. Now, the Canucks signed winger Anton Rodin of the Swedish Hockey League — but how will he fit in, and can he really help?
The first question is somewhat easy to answer. With Radim Vrbata gone at the end of the season, the Canucks’ top-three right wingers are Jannik Hansen, Jake Virtanen and Emerson Etem. Plus, maybe, Linden Vey. So, obviously, Rodin should slot right in behind Hansen on the depth chart and add some much-needed scoring touch to the second line.
In my 2016-17 roster outlook, I put Rodin on the second line with Brandon Sutter and a free-agent signing, possibly Los Angeles Kings forward Milan Lucic. Obviously, that is more of a dream scenario than a realistic expectation.
First of all, the Canucks might not sign Lucic, or any other free-agent winger for that matter. Second, Rodin might not quite be ready for that big of a role yet.
Which brings us to the next question: can Rodin really help? Or rather, how quickly will he be ready to help?
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Anton Rodin is the 2015-16 SHL MVP. He scored 16 goals and added 21 assists in an injury-shortened 33-game season as the captain of Brynas IF. Those are solid numbers and his performances were enough to land him a second gig in North America — in the NHL this time.
The Canucks’ 2009 second-round draft pick is a great European player, which might be his biggest problem. He is a quick skater with great puck skills, but might struggle to adapt to the North American style.
There are several North American prospects that fail to make the NHL but excel over in Europe because of their skating and puck skills. Rodin could become an example for someone who does it the other way around: excel in Europe, fail in Vancouver.
This is not a knock on Rodin — he is clearly a terrific hockey player. He also does not shy away from being physical when he has to. However, the big question is if he can translate his game to the North American style this time, and he might fail to do that.
Now, if he manages to adapt to the more physical game on a smaller ice surface, he could become a solid scorer for the Canucks who can move up and down the lineup. He will add speed and skill, which is something the Sedins need on their line as much as Brandon Sutter and Alex Burrows do on theirs.
A Swedish line of Daniel-Henrik-Rodin would definitely be a fun thing to have, but a lower spot on the depth chart is probably more realistic for Rodin.
General manager Jim Benning seems to have a different opinion. He is sure Rodin can become an offensive force for the Canucks, playing anywhere in the top nine while getting power-play minutes.
A 20-goal scorer sounds good, but it might not be realistic.
Canucks management and coaching staff will have to evaluate Rodin at training camp, just like they do with every other player. If they think he is good enough for the NHL, he will see a lot of ice time on different lines throughout the preseason. From there, we can see how things develop.
Since Rodin already failed when he played in North America the last time, between 2011 and 2013 with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, but stood out as the Swedish Hockey League’s most valuable player, he is a total wild card for the Canucks.
An exciting prospect to have, anyway.