In the past year, Anton Rodin has played just 13 professional hockey games. That’s it.
Three of those games came in the NHL last season and he also sat on the bench for a fourth game, never playing a single shift. He played three more in the AHL last season and has suited up for just seven AHL games for the Utica Comets this season.
In between those games, he’s dealt with injuries both major and minor. The major injury was to his knee: swelling and inflammation that never went away from the knee surgery that ended his Swedish Hockey League season in 2016. It required another surgery, this time apparently removing a bone from his knee cap, and another six months of rehab.
Unfortunately, Rodin couldn’t repeat his excellent performance from the 2016 preseason at this year’s training camp and wound up back in Utica. Once there, he ended up as a healthy scratch as the Comets dealt with their overabundance of veterans. A brief call-up at the end of October just saw him sit in a different press box collecting a bigger salary.
It’s no wonder, then, that Rodin has asked to be released from his NHL contract. Rodin’s dream of playing for the Canucks appears to be completely dead and the 26-year-old winger likely just wants to play hockey again.
"Anton asked to be released from his contract," said Jim Benning. "We value the skill and depth he adds to our team but ultimately it was important to respect Anton's request to move on."
The Canucks placed Rodin on unconditional waivers Monday morning for the purpose of releasing him from his contract. He’s extremely unlikely to get claimed by anyone, so he’ll soon be free to sign a contract with a new team.
Most likely, that means a return to the SHL, where he was the MVP less than two years ago.
It still feels like Rodin never really got a shot to prove he could be an NHL player. He was a standout performer in the 2016 preseason on a hobbled knee, reaggravated the knee injury, then lost his entire 2017 off-season to rehab from surgery.
Ultimately, Rodin will end his career with the Canucks as a “What if…?” story instead of a comeback story.
At least we'll always have the 2016 preseason.