Resurgent Rodin

Of the 60 players selected in the first two rounds of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 50 have played at least one NHL game.

Anton Rodin, drafted 53rd overall by the Canucks that year, is set to become the 51st to play in the big league this season, if all goes according to plan.

Then again, nothing has gone according to plan for Rodin.

Seven years ago Rodin was brought into the organization and viewed as an up-and-coming forward with superb puck handling, a solid shot, excellent skating and good hockey sense. He spent the 2009-10 season proving the Canucks right as a rookie with Brynas in Sweden's Elitserien, at the 2010 U20 World Junior Championship and the World Junior Championship, where he tied Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson for second overall in points (10).

The 5-foot-11, 181-pound forward signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canucks in June 2010 and it was only a matter of time before he made the move to Vancouver.

Then, as much as a prospect can vanish, Rodin did.

He played two seasons with the AHL's Chicago Wolves, collecting 41 points in 111 games, while fighting through a myriad of injuries. The then 22-year-old returned to Sweden and all but said goodbye to his shot at an NHL career.

Think again.

Over the past three seasons with Brynas IF Gavle of the Swedish Hockey League, Rodin was a standout with 47 goals and 65 assists for 112 points in 134 games. Last year, despite losing almost half the season to injury, he had 37 points in 33 games as team captain and was awarded the Golden Helmet, an award bestowed upon the league MVP. To be clear: Rodin missed 19 games and was still named most valuable player.

Clearly something clicked for the now 25-year-old.

"Those three years in Sweden were really good for me, I was a key player on my team," said Rodin, after skating alongside Alex Burrows and Brandon Sutter at training camp in Whistler Saturday. "I'm a lot older now, so I'm more mature on and off the ice and this time around will be better for me."

Both GM Jim Benning and coach Willie Desjardins speak highly of Rodin, who was signed to a one-year, one-way contract last March. It's too early to tell if and where Rodin fits into the picture for the Canucks this season, but even being in the discussion again is quite remarkable.

Rodin said he needed to mature as a person and a player before he could take the next step.

"Last year did a lot for my confidence, especially being named captain of my team. I got tons of opportunities from my coach and I think I took them too. Opportunities are always good, that's all you can ask for, then it's up to you to make the best of it."

He certainly made the best of his summer through training with Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, a former teammate with Brynas and good friend. Once he arrived in Vancouver in June Rodin started getting to know the Sedins and Alex Edler as well, so it's no surprise to hear him talk as if nothing is promised.

"My game is in the offensive zone, I'm a good skater and I can put the puck in the net. But first of all it's hard work, if I'm not working hard, I'm not a good player. So I focus on hard work, then the rest will come."