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Looking to make the leap: Anton Rodin

IIHF World Junior Championship - Semifinals -  Sweden v USA

SASKATOON, SK - JANUARY 3: Anton Rodin #18 of Team Sweden skates with the puck while being defended by David Warsofsky #5 of Team USA during the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Semifinal game on January 3, 2010 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Team USA defeated Team Sweden 5-2. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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This post is part of Canucks Day on PHT...

Most Canucks fans had already written off Anton Rodin. He was the guy who came to North America in 2011 and couldn’t even cut it in the AHL. Just another draft bust for an organization that’s had plenty of those in its history.

But then Rodin -- a second-round draft pick of Vancouver’s in 2009 -- went back to Sweden and found his game. In 2014-15, he scored 19 times with 21 assists for Brynas. He maintained that level into 2015-16, before suffering a freak knee injury during practice in January. Despite the season-ending injury, he was still named the MVP of the SHL with 37 points (16G, 21A) in 33 games.

Also despite the injury, the Canucks signed him in March, and GM Jim Benning is pegging Rodin -- a 25-year-old, left-shooting right winger -- as a potential third-liner for them next season.

“We watched him 20 times this year,” Benning told Postmedia. “He’s got the skill to play in the NHL and he’s a little older, so he’s mentally tougher and physically stronger. The time was right.”

Rodin is expected to be healthy for training camp, which should be a pretty competitive one for Vancouver. Benning would still like to add another forward, either via trade or free agency. And even if the group remains the same, there’s already been talk that Jake Virtanen, who turns 20 next week, could start the season down in the AHL.

“There’s going to be competition amongst our young players for ice time and spots on the team,” Benning said in a recent radio interview, per Canucks Army. “Jake is in good shape, he’s working hard. He’s an important guy for our group, but we’ll make the decision that’s best for him in the long term. If he needs to spend time in the AHL and that’s what’s best for his development, that’s what we’ll do.”