Jonas Brodin will have a new defensive partner this season. After playing primarily with Ryan Suter for the bulk of his young career, Brodin will be paired with slap shot wunderkind Matt Dumba. The pairing allows Brodin to move to the left side, where he can take advantage of his left-handedness on the point. Brodin has publicly stated that he is very comfortable playing his off-hand, and he's been very effective in that position, being one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL at the age of 22. But while Brodin's been effective defensively alongside Suter, they've struggled generating offense when together, making his being paired with the offensive Dumba quite intriguing.
The next step for Brodin is to complete his game and start becoming a threat offensively. What I think most people are hoping for is that he could turn into the Wild version of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. And right now, that's a long ways away. Of the 128 defensemen with 1000+ 5v5 minutes, Brodin was 106th in Points/60, coupling that with non-existent power play production. Not only did he have just 17 points (and just 3 points), he hasn't even registered over 20 points in a season. The only time he's shown off some serious offensive ability was his torrid start to the 13-14 season, when he notched 3 goals and 3 assists in his first 10 games. However, that production dropped off considerably once he took a puck to his face, fracturing his cheekbone.
But now that he's separated from Suter, he'll have an offensive partner to compliment him. Granted, we've only seen the Brodin-Dumba pairing in preseason and training camp scrimmage action, but Brodin has been noticeably more aggressive in the offensive zone with Dumba as his partner. There was a play in training camp where Brodin was left with an open lane to the net, and instead of ringing the puck around the boards for his forwards to retrieve, he took the space given to him and created a great scoring chance. Overall in the preseason, he had a decent showing and was one the best players on the ice for the Wild in terms of generating offense..
Wild preseason. pic.twitter.com/bAfV9a8Wge— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 4, 2015
This is something that should be more available to him as teams cheat over to Dumba in an attempt to shut down his shot. Much like we've said about Mikael Granlund, Brodin needs to be a shooting threat in order to keep defenses honest. With the space that will likely be given to Brodin, it should create more goals (because more pucks will get to the net), and more assists (as forwards will be able to clean up rebounds). A dynamic defensive partner and a more aggressive approach means that Brodin could see a huge leap in points this season.
Just how big of a leap do I think he'll make? I am going to say that Brodin scores 11 goals and racks up 25 assists for 36 points. That's a number that would put him around the Top-40 of NHL defensemen, and be almost double his career high in points (19 in 2013-14). If Brodin is able to build on his offensive game to this degree, he'll realize his potential as one of the very best young defensemen in the league.