A Good Spot for TJ Brodie

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 21:  114th overall pick, T.J. Brodie of the Calgary Flames poses for a portrait at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place on June 21, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames prospect getting the most buzz coming out of Vancouver’s Young Stars tournament seems to be blueliner TJ Brodie.  The 2008 fourth round draft pick has shown an impressive skill set in two games so far, and has done a nice job building on the mild buzz he garnered after a nice OHL season with the Saginaw Spirit and Barrie Colts.  But with a glut of defenceman already signed by the Calgary Flames, his chances of cracking the big roster are slim.  And that’s a good thing as he continues to develop.

There’s no question the positives are plenty when it comes to what we’ve seen from Brodie over the last nine months or so.  He’s coming off a career best 56 point season in junior, adding 15 points in 17 playoff games with the high powered Colts.  Watching the guy perform in Penticton has shown the skills and ability leading to those impressive numbers.  Brodie is a strong skater who does a nice job starting the play from his own end, and has the skating ability to make up for a mistake or a bad pass.  His motor seems to always be running, as we’ve seen him go top speed in both directions.  His offensive instincts seem sound, and he’s got a real nice ability to walk the line to open up shooting lanes on the powerplay or even strength offensive situations.  His raw skills have made many stop and take notice.  In fact, Abbotsford Heat Head Coach Jim Playfair compared him to another Flames defenceman…Mark Giordano.

However, the one draw back is in his size and strength.  Brodie is officially listed at 6’1 and 180 pounds, which is undersized for an NHL defenceman.  In fact, his frame was undersized in junior hockey, and he’s worked very hard to add size and bulk over the offseason, which is important news.  He’ll have to continue that work if he’s going to want to take the next steps in his hockey career.

Three pieces of good news when it relates to Brodie for me.  First, it’s not like size and strength are impossible things to add.  The Flames have a very good strength and conditioning team, and it’s not that difficult for dudes to bulk up and add muscle and strength.  Unlike other things, a lack of size is considered to be a fixable problem for scouts and teams alike.  Second, Brodie is well aware of his smaller stature.  He’s said it in a few interviews this week, and it’s always been something that motivates him.  Let’s hope it motivates him at the next level as well to continue the process.

Finally, it’s not like he doesn’t have time to do it.  With Bouwmeester, White, Staios, Sarich, Regehr, Giordano, Pardy and Kronwall all signed for the coming season, it’s not like Brodie is fighting for an open spot.  Add in a guy like Matt Pelech already fighting for a spot, and it gets even more clogged on the big team.  So a 20 year old Brodie can take the time to not only develop his skills, but also focus on working on increasing the size and strength elements of his game.  It’s not like he drops off of Calgary’s radar, and if he continues his progression on the ice, many will expect him to push for a spot on the big club in the next few years.

  • the thing that really excites me about brodie is this: by the time he’s actually ready for nhl action (next season at the EARLIEST), there might actually be a spot for him —since i presume any/all of staios, gio, white, pardy, kronwall, and sarich will be gone by july 1.

    as for this year, he’d have to climb over AT LEAST three of those guys above, PLUS pelech and negrin.

    so, if brodie thinks he’s crackin’ the lineup opening night, he’s sorely mistaken. he’ll probably get some game action in exhibition, though. and some big minutes with the HEAT.

  • Bob

    There is no need to rush him. As much as we want to see some younger players on this roster we also need to realize some guys should spend a season or two in the AHL to see if they are ready…that’s an ongoing argument with regards to Backlund right now, but that’s for another time.

    Pat, you brought up his size…or lack thereof. I think Keith Seabrook falls into that category too, though it looks like he’s tried to add some bulk as well. Some guys add the poundage and then it slows them down and effects their game. For other guys it adds new dimensions to what they can do. For a more homegrown example I refer to Paul Postma of the Atlants Thrashers. When Kelly Kisio brought Postma in for the Hitmen, we were looking at a tall, skilled kid with some potential. But he was a beanpole. Good eyes, decent skater and he was wirey, but he could get muscled off the puck and didn’t always win the corner battles against some of the older, more compact players. He added some muscle and worked on adapting his game and look what he did for the Hitmen during the 2008-09 season. He’s still trying to add some pounds in an attempt to make Atlanta’s line-up this year…I think he has a shot, but might have to go one more year in the minor’s.

    If Brodie can follow the same path…we could have lots of positives to look forward to on our defense in the next year or two.

    • I like your comparison to Postma, it’s a fair one in some ways. Kent makes a good point when talking about Brodie’s game though…it’s not like he plays an overly physical style. The thing he needs to do is make sure there’s enough strength so that he isn’t consistently muscled off the puck at the next level(s).

    • I commonly hear this in reference to defensemen who are weak and rely on poke-checking but Lidstrom is a freak and a large outlier. It’s rare dmen can be dominant without a physical game to separate players from pucks, clear the net and win battles along the boards.

      If Brodie has generational hockey sense and stick-check abilities then yes it won’t be an issue 🙂

      The frame/weight didn’t seem to be the big issue with Brodie but more so the muscle. The thing that alarms me if at this point in his career if he was getting out-muscled by OHL guys, how well will he do in the NHL? Some guys have a hard time putting on muscle whereas others can just overdrive at the gym and over time they can overcome that deficiency. If by this point Brodie isn’t improving his physical game I’m inclined to pin him in the latter category, but at the same time I’m no biologist.

      • Some guys have a hard time putting on muscle whereas others can just overdrive at the gym and over time they can overcome that deficiency. If by this point Brodie isn’t improving his physical game I’m inclined to pin him in the latter category, but at the same time I’m no biologist.

        I’ll give Rich Hesketh and the Flames strength and conditioning department the nod here. It’s as good as there is in the NHL, and if there’s a committment shown by Brodie, the strength he needs can be added, I’m confident of that.