Itâ€™sÂ typically a fan problem, if you can call it that. Many fans, long time or casual, only care about the flair, the spotlight. They care about the guys who make the big bucks and pull us out of our seats on a nightly basis. Nobody is immune to the highlight reel goal that a certain highly touted Finnish prospect scores in a World Championships semifinal but even the casual fan understands the game is about more than that, even if he/she doesnâ€™t care about Mike Brown.
A team can never have too many energy players that can put the puck into the net. Secondary scoring, grinding and puck pursuit is a vital cog in any teamsâ€™ success. Not that we lack historical examples, but just ask Tampa Bay and Sean Bergenheim for a more contemporary one. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Daniel Brodin.
Daniel Brodin is a native of Stockholm, Sweden. Daniel was born February 9th, 1990. and is currently plying his trade in DjurgÃ¥rdens IF, the former team of our recently signed goalie prospect, Mark Owuya and a home to another player that might interest the Leafs in the upcoming NHL draft (Mika Zibanejad, increased speculation because of the sheer number of times DjurgÃ¥rdens IF games were scouted) but thatâ€™s a topic for another time. Primarily positioned as a LW, Brodin can play either wing position if needed since he switched positions to RW when first entering the Elitserien because of team needs and adapted rather quickly. Brodin is a right handed shooter. Picked in the fifth round, 146th overall, he was considered by many scouts as a potential Leafs sleeper pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The thing you notice about Brodin as soon as you watch him for a couple of shifts is that he plays a distinctly different game from your typical Swedish player. Heâ€™s an intense player who loves to crash and bang and is at his best when playing a gritty, hard hitting game. Of course, a good number of Swedish players nowadays can hit (see Niklas Kronwall), but few come with Brodinâ€™s mean streak. He does sometimes go overboard with it, especially in the Swedish Elite League (see here) which although rugged, doesnâ€™t compare to the nature of the NHL, which should reward his hard hitting nature more. He has a good frame, standing at 6 ft 1 in and weighing 172 lbs. With more physical maturation, and considering his mean streak he could really evolve to being an impact energy player at the NHL level. A good example of his strength can be found here.
Brodin is only 21 years old, but having already played 82 games in the Swedish Elitserien against men, it wouldnâ€™t surprise me if he makes the jump to North America next year. During those 82 games, Bodin has collected 18 points (6 goals and 12 assists), hardly a total that will raise any eyebrows. However, itâ€™s important to note, he put up those numbers playing a specific role, with limited icetime and that those numbers donâ€™t really tell the story of his true offensive potential. That said, nobody is expecting this kid to develop into a true NHL sniper, but he has a willingness to shot the puck and good speed to go with it. Iâ€™d say his ceiling would be a second line power forward but my expected projection is a third line energy winger that can provide some secondary scoring and is willing to drive to the net. It is also important to note that during that period he also collected 87 penalty minutes, which is further proof of him being something Burke wants to add more of to this team in the future. In fact, at every level of hockey Brodin has featured in, his combined penalty minute total has been close to a 1 PIM per game. His best quality that I noticed while watching him play might be that nothing really rattles him, or gets him off his game. That is a very good trait to have.
Despite only having played nine Elitserien games at the time, Brodin was selected to represent team Sweden in the 2010 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships by PÃ¤r MÃ¥rts, coach of Sweden’s national junior hockey team. For the majority of the tournament Bodin was playing injured (swollen right hand, hit by a puck in training prior to the tournament) but still made a major contribution to his teamsâ€™ bronze medal with 5 points in 6 games (2 goals, 3 assists) while posting a +5 rating. That tournament, more than anything else, tells a story of a hardworking, hard nosed kid who might still have untapped offensive potential. When combined with his gritty nature, that potential can grow even more prominent when switched to a smaller rink and a North American style of play.