The Detroit Red Wings went big — bigger than anybody else — late in the 2012 NHL draft in Pittsburgh.
The Red Wings, on the advice of director of European scouting Hakan Andersson, chose 6-foot-6, 207-pound giant Rasmus Bodin in the seventh round, 200th overall, giving them the tallest player in the draft with their final pick of the weekend.
Although Andersson guesses he might be the only NHL scout who watched Bodin play last season, he didn’t want to pass on the big Swedish left-winger’s combination of skating and work ethic.
“For his size and age, he’s a very good skater — he’s not awkward like some guys are that age when they get big,” Andersson said. “He’s got good speed and he really works hard all the time. He plays with good intensity and he works, he works, he works.”
Bodin played in his hometown of Ostersund, which has a third-level pro team and a second-level under-18 junior team — hardly a hotbed for scouts. He averaged a point per game at the U-18 level, picking up seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 17 games.
Andersson saw Bodin play twice after receiving a tip from a friend — the same friend who tipped him off about another Ostersund native, Alexandre Edler, in 2004 — and liked what he saw. That convinced Andersson to get Bodin a tryout with HV-71 in Jonkoping, and Bodin made a big enough impression to earn a contract with the well-known organization.
“I wasn’t sure where he stood, so I got him a tryout … he did two days, on-ice and off-ice, and the coach there really liked him and wanted him right away,” Andersson said.
So just what are the Red Wings hoping for with Bodin?
“At this point, I would say I’m hoping he becomes a bigger version of (current Red Wings forward) Justin Abdelkader, a guy who works hard, uses his body and is a useful guy for the team,” Andersson said.
Andersson said Bodin has grown a great deal over the past year and is still adjusting to his bigger body. At the same time, the added size has hampered his ability to play a physical game at Sweden’s junior level, where he often finds himself whistled for hits to the head.
“He said himself, ‘I quit hitting because every time I hit somebody, my elbow ends up in their head, they go into the boards, and I get penalized,’” Andersson said. “But according to him, he likes to compete, he has no problem playing a physical game, and I think he has it in him. We’re going to find out.”
Bodin will likely play for HV-71’s J-20 SuperElit squad in 2012-13, but could see time in the Swedish Elite League if he comes along quickly.
Andersson’s final-round picks range from legendary — Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson — to unsuccessful — Jesper Samuelsson and Mikael Johansson. Where Bodin will fall remains to be seen, but the foundation is there for an NHLer.
“My thinking was, if nothing else, you’re going to have a big guy who can skate and work,” Andersson said. “If we do get some upside in terms of points? Exciting. It’s a bonus.”