Most underrated player in the NHL? The Wild think it’s Jonas Brodin
Brodin has only 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in 52 games this season after Thursday night’s matchup with Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA — Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason smiled as he made a joke last week, likely because he knew it was laced with so much truth.
Asked to assess the play of defenseman Jonas Brodin, who had missed a month with a lower-body injury, Evason said the Swede could miss three years and look exactly the same.
“He’s such a gifted skater, right?” Evason said. “We’ve seen them all through the years. There’s just special guys that can skate like that.”
There’s no doubt Brodin belongs on that short list. He dominates defensively on a nightly basis with his innate ability to stick with opposing players in open ice. His teammates often joke that he can skate backward faster than most players can skate forward.
“Someone sent me a text the other day that said, ‘Is he the most underrated player in the game?’ ” Evason said. “It’s possible.”
The biggest reason Brodin doesn’t get more recognition on a national scale is that he rarely shows up in the box score. Never once has he eclipsed the 30-point mark in his career. He has a mere 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in 52 games this season after Thursday night’s matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Naturally, players such as San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, who has 87 points (22 goals, 65 assists) this season, are going to get more attention than someone like Brodin, who makes his presence felt in different ways.
“Maybe that’s it; we know what he brings,” Evason said. “Even if he’s not putting up points, he’s carrying pucks out of our zone. Maybe he’s not getting assists because he’s the third or fourth or fifth guy to touch the puck or whatever.”
Though it sounds so simple, captain Jared Spurgeon emphasized that the way Brodin effortlessly exits his own zone is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Watch the way Brodin is able to break up a play along the boards and turn it into offense the other way.
“No matter who’s on him, if there’s one guy, or two guys, or even three guys, he makes little subtle plays to put himself in position to break the puck out,” Spurgeon said. “That’s something not a lot of people can do. He makes it look so easy that the average fan doesn’t even notice it. He’s definitely underrated.”
Not to mention a huge part of why the Wild are so stingy in their own zone.
“We’re playing really good hockey right now,” Brodin said. “We’ve just got to keep it going into the playoffs.”
That will be much easier with Brodin back in the mix.
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