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.