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Jonas Brodin: Will they or won't they?

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The offseason means the end of Minnesota Wild games, but the work is never done. With Exit Interviews, Hockey Wilderness assumes the GM's chair and sits down with each player to review their season, highlighting what we liked from them over the year and pointing out what can be improved to take the next step. Today, Jonas Brodin takes the interview chair.

Will he stay or will he go?
Will he stay or will he go?
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, Jonas.  Come on in and have a seat.  I have a feeling that today's chat is going to be a lot different than the one we had last year.  And it isn't because of your performance, you had an effective year in a different role than we've given you in the past.  But unfortunately, we got a glimpse of life without you while you were injured and we may have learned that we can survive without you. We know that you hold a ton of value on the trade market.  We'll have to see as this offseason unfolds whether you will live out the plans we've had all along to build our defensive core around you or if we have the opportunity to engineer a trade that will change the complexion of our team dramatically.  But first, let's look back on your season.

We started this season a little bit differently by taking your training wheels off and moving you off the top pairing with Ryan Suter.  It really wasn't optimal to have two left-hand shots in the top pair, even though you've been playing the right side for most of the time.  We wanted to get to an even mixture, and spreading your talent to another pairing was also designed for us to spread the minutes more evenly between the pairs, and ultimately balance out a minute distribution that heavily favored the top pair.  But it didn't quite work out the way everyone had hoped.  We strongly believed that providing the right-left and minute balance would master the chemistry on the blue line while igniting the offensive game of all involved.  Instead we saw your point total drop from 17 points last season to just 10 this year.  You had 21 points in 92 games the year before that, so we can see that your offensive contributions are trending in the wrong direction.

What's really hard to tell is whether the difference was caused by splitting you from Ryan Suter or if it was an adjustment to moving back to your natural side on the left.  In previous seasons, you posted respectable possession statistics playing on Suter's right side with a 47.28% CF% in 2014-15.  This is the category we saw the most noticeable dropoff this season as you fell all the way to 40.82 CF% playing along side guys like Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, Mike Reilly and Nate Prosser.  While some dropoff was expected, this is an area you have to tighten up.  As a stay-at-home defender, your role requires you to drive possession by separating opponents from the puck and making a great outlet pass to your forwards, which are both tools for which you are known. We also didn't help you much by loading you up on defensive zone draws throughout the year.

What is so incredibly easy to forget about you is that at just 22 years of age, you are an NHL veteran defender who is capable of playing top-pair minutes against the best forwards in the league.  You play the game with a maturity that most players don't find until they are past their prime - yet you are just starting to enter your prime years.  We still believe that there are more levels to your offensive game, and at your age there is still a good chance you can produce points by volume.  But at the same time after seeing you on the ice for 4 seasons, we also have to wonder if you can really change.  We are really hoping that the potential to work with coach Boudreau could be a turning point for you and something we are hoping to see.  You are one of the most complete defensive players we have ever had - even in a somewhat down year, you were still excellent.  But you are next to non-existent on the offensive side of the puck, and we expect more of you.

That leaves us at somewhat of a crossroad.  We have to make a decision about the identity of both the team and you as a player moving forward.  We hold you in extremely high regard for your defensive prowess.  We know that you are going to be a stalwart defender for years to come.  But this team is starving for offense and has some depth behind you in the defensive core.  We saw that we could press forward without you while you were injured, and that probably made it a little easier for us to envision the future without you.  However, as I said before, we think the world of you as a defenseman and still believe that your offensive game will come around, at least moderately.  Your name has been thrown in all sorts of trade rumors, but it would be incredibly tough to let you go unless a deal materialized that would change the identity of this team.  So, please know that's the standard we are holding for potentially trading you - finding that kind of deal will be an incredible challenge.

Expectations For Next Season

Jonas, it's pretty clear we want you to be developing your offensive instincts.  Get to know your new coach as soon as possible and get to know his system.  You have got to be able to operate from your natural position on the left side, and also with any partner.  If you remain in Minnesota, you're going to continue to get a lot of minutes and have an increased role in the new system.  You've got to own it.

Offseason Homework

1.  Go see Adam Oates or Dr. Shot.  Have them help you wrap your mind around offense.

2.  Go see Barb Ness - your speed is one of your greatest weapons, and it wasn't as apparent this past season as it was previously.

3.  Keep playing that left side.  You've got to be comfortable there.