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Rodin's ready

Veteran-turned-rookie Swede looking to make an impact in 2017

by Daniel Fung @daniel_fung / Canucks freelance writer

If it's true good things come to those who wait then 2017 figures to be a banner year for Anton Rodin.

It's not quite accurate to suggest that 2016 - a year where Rodin earned the Guldhjälmen (also known as the Golden Helmet awarded to the Swedish Hockey League MVP) and made his NHL debut - has been entirely without reward.

However, the trials and tribulations the 26-year-old Swede has endured would be enough to make even the most dedicated of players question their resolve, especially when you consider all the roadblocks he's had to endure over the years in his previous attempts to make it to the world's best hockey league.

A severed tendon in his knee derailed what had been a special season a year ago for Rodin in Sweden's top league and while it wouldn't disrupt his return to North America, it would throw his plans off course as the extended recovery process took away the opening night line-up spot he had clearly earned with his pre-season play.

"That was the toughest part," reveals Rodin. "I worked hard all summer, finally got to play a couple of games and just couldn't go anymore. That was the most frustrating part, the emotional rollercoaster ride."

The three-month journey from the end of the pre-season to his regular season debut on December 23 in Calgary was just the tip of the iceberg as far as his long road back to the NHL is concerned.

Like many young hockey players, making the NHL was always the dream for Rodin - one that seemed tantalizing close in 2009 when he was taken by the Canucks with the 53rd overall pick in the NHL Draft. But a few tough years in the AHL led Rodin home to Sweden to re-evaluate, refocus and rebuild.

"I think I was almost going backwards a bit in my two years in the American League," says Rodin, reflecting on his two-year stint with the Chicago Wolves. "I was 19-, 20-years-old at the time. Now I'm 26. You mature as a person and as a player."

It's not only maturity that has provided Rodin with an opportunity to take this bumpy, road-less-travelled path to the NHL. Coming back to North America with renewed confidence - something he admits was sorely lacking when he went home to Sweden in 2013 - is what makes him feel he can succeed where he failed in his first go-around.

"For me, confidence is always a big thing," says Rodin. "That's something you build up. I'm at the point now where I know what I'm capable of and what I'm good at."

It's that same confidence that leads him to not only believe he can be an everyday NHLer but to be a difference-maker game in, game out. For him, that means being a complete player at both ends of the ice and taking ownership of a being in a goal scorer's role - something that should be music to the eras of a team that has had its fair share of offensive struggles.

 "I think the highest expectations are always from myself," says Rodin. "I want to go out there and perform and I want to be a goal scorer but you've got to start at the right end with good defensive play and build from there."

If his skills set can match his level of persistence and perseverance, then Rodin will be a name to watch for not just the remainder of this season but for many years to come down the road.

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