Lots of reports on twitter right now saying TJ Brodie has been sent down to Abbotsford. It’s the right move from a number of angles, not least of which is the fact that sitting in the pressbox doesn’t make sense for a 20 year-old defender just starting out his career. If the club has decided that the vets are the better bet going forward, then it makes sense for the kid to see ice time at the AHL level. It certainly isn’t going to hurt him to be a big wheel in Abbotsford.
That said, has the team made the right decision on the ice? Meaning: is the current line-up the best available? We’ve seen a couple of games from Steve Staios and TJ Brodie which is, of course, probably not enough to really be making these decisions. That said, the results almost all universally flow in favor of the kid.
In three contests, Brodie mostly faced third and fourth lines and was on the positive side of the ledger in terms of possession (+8.05/60). Staios has probably faced a slightly better quality of competition by virtue of skating beside Bouwmeester (albeit against the Edmonton Oilers, so maybe not) and yet he’s at the other end of the spectrum: -10.18/60. The only skater with a worse corsi rate thus far is Stefan Meyer.
To be fair to Steady Steve, he’s mostly started out in his own end thus far, with a zone start ratio of 45.5%. That said, Brodie wasn’t being coddled either. His zone start was 47.1%…so it’s not like circumstances alone explain the near 20 corsi/hour gulf between the two.
There’s no question that Brodie began to struggle somewhat in terms of making NHL-caliber reads once the bullets started flying. However, his ability to move the puck forward and skate it out of trouble persisted. Staios, on the other hand, is everything I remember: not overly fast nor smart, struggling to keep up with certain aspects of the play. Even more galling, Sutter has gone back to playing him on the man advantage…a decision so baffling that Oilers fans were laughing incredulously when they saw it on Saturday.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the move is permanent. If Staios continues to stink and Brodie continues to impress in the minors, there’s every possibility the kid will re-emerge when another injury hits or (god permitting) Staios is finally traded away or demoted.