Vancouver Canucks forward Anton Rodin is far from having a roster spot guaranteed, but the club really needs him to work out.
The Vancouver Canucks will go into training camp with Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi and Jannik Hansen as their top-six wingers. If everything works out, however, Hansen will go back to the bottom-six role he filled for most of his career, with Anton Rodin in the top six. The Canucks really need that to happen.
Whether you like it or not, the Canucks are going for the playoffs this season. They are going for the playoffs after ranking 29th in goals for and 24th in goals against in 2015-16. I got into what it takes goal-wise to make the playoffs a bit ago, and the Canucks are far, far away from that. Like, it seems completely unrealistic for them to score enough goals to reach the playoffs with essentially the same roster as last season.
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Vancouver Canucks fans expect Loui Eriksson to come in and score at least 30 goals this year. What many of them forget is that the 2015-16 campaign was Eriksson’s best since 2012, and that he finished the 2014-15 season with “only” 22 goals and 47 points in 81 games. Plus, while Eriksson might score between 20 and 30 goals, Hansen’s production without the Sedins will likely drop. The improvement will therefore become smaller than it seems.
On the second line, fans expect Baertschi to take the next step. But what will that next step look like? In 2015-16, Baertschi had only 15 goals, which is good for a third-liner, but not enough for the second line. If he improves by five and gets to 20, that still won’t be enough to lift the Canucks into a playoff spot.
This is where Rodin comes in.
The Swede was always known for his speed and skill, which was evident in his first stint in North America. But for whatever reason, he was never able to translate his scoring ability to the North American game — not even in the American Hockey League — and he returned to Sweden. The Canucks extended a qualifying offer to him nonetheless, retaining his rights until now, and the move might pay off.
After scoring 16 goals and 37 points in 32 games last season while wearing the captain’s ‘C’ on his jersey, Rodin was named MVP in the Swedish Hockey League. Only few in Canucks Nation have seen him play recently, but all reports on him sound positive.
"Anton Rödin is a top flight scoring winger who combines speed with skill and cunning. He is a naturally superb skater that controls the puck well at high speed. He possesses high end vision and playmaking ability and is a reliable source of offence. He is the type of player that, if you leave alone for even a few seconds, will make you pay. He does not have the size to play a prevalent physical game, but he chooses to battle against bigger guys and, combined with his intellect, skill, and shiftiness, is able to win a massive amount of puck battles. He has the competitiveness and drive to do whatever it takes to win, and that is key to his success as a versatile scoring winger."
It sounds like Rodin, now 25 years old, is a very promising player for the Canucks. His 2015-16 production prorated to an 82-game season would be 40 goals and 95 points. If he could get only half of that with the Canucks, i.e. 20 goals and 47 points, that would be a huge success.
And the Canucks really need that huge success.
Expecting 20 goals and 47 points from Rodin can probably be considered crazy. A more realistic and reasonable expectation would be something around 13 goals and 30 points, and even then his signing would be considered a success. In fact, even 10 goals and 20 points in a full season are realistic — only then it wouldn’t be labelled a success anymore.
If the Canucks really want to make the playoff next season, they need to increase their goal total by a lot. That cannot be done by adding just one player.
Baertschi and Bo Horvat might improve, Eriksson will add some much-needed fire power. But the Canucks need a whole lot more that needs to go right.
Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller need to be consistent, the defense needs to improve, and the team needs to score a lot more goals. Only if all of that happens, the Canucks will have a chance to make the playoffs.
Anton Rodin alone can’t do it, but 20 goals from him would certainly be a huge help.