Tracking TJ Brodie

 

 

When rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie was among the scoring leaders on last year’s Abbotsford Heat, it was the culmination of two totally opposite story lines. It was somewhat of an indictment of the Heat, which as we all know by now, were dead last in the AHL in goals scored last season.

It was somewhat of an indictment of the Heat, which as we all know by now, were dead last in the AHL in goals scored last season. Brodie was second on the Heat in overall scoring with five goals and 34 points, which was just one behind Matt Keith, who after one year in Abbotsford, has moved on to play pro hockey in Sweden.

Not to take anything away from Keith, but it’s hardly anything to brag about when your leading scorer has 35 points, which was good enough for 172nd overall in the league. That said, Brodie, a smooth-skating 21-year-old blueliner from Chatham, Ont. who enters his sophomore minor league campaign, was a refreshing change of pace from an otherwise dreary squad that for all its offensive shortcomings nearly made the Calder Cup playoffs.

But after an impressive rookie season, Brodie never quite found his place at Flames camp, especially in Penticton for the second annual Canucks Young Stars Tournament. As a result, he was dispatched back to Abbotsford, back to the minor leagues.

“I started off slow in Penticton, didn’t play that good there,” said Brodie, who also had a plus-three rating in his rookie tenure with the Heat.

“But in the exhibition games I thought I played alright, especially defensively which is what they told me to work on. I didn’t score like I did last year which is what I expected because that’s not what I do.

“It could’ve gone better.”

A year ago he had come into Flames camp as a fourth round draft pick and came out a member of the NHL club’s roster, albeit for a short time before he was reassigned to the Heat for more playing time.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” he said.

“Everyone’s goal is to be up there and the Flames are trying to win so you have to do what it takes. We all understand that and it’s just motivation to work harder and try and improve.”

As Brodie looks to improve, he’ll be part of an Abbotsford team that has, at least on paper, made numerous changes this off-season both on and off the ice.

The Flames and the Heat have brought back Brodie’s defence partner Chris Breen – combined the two became the go-to duo for former head coach Jim Playfair down the stretch. The Heat have also added depth and scoring up front, with the reassignment of Ben Walter and Paul Byron, who had 77 and 53 points respectively last season in the AHL.

That’s to go along with a talented sophomore crop that includes the likes of Carter Bancks and former Flames first-round pick Greg Nemisz. With the addition of Clay Wilson, another talented point-producing blueliner who went up against the Heat as a member of the Rochester Americans in the 2010 North Division semifinal, suddenly the pressure on Brodie and Breen has shifted from being the team’s only shutdown/offensive pair.

They’ll be counted to chip in offensively, but it won’t make or break this year’s team if they don’t do so with as much necessity as last season. Can Brodie produce with the same – or improved – sufficiency as he did last season? It’s possible, if not probable.

But if once again he is solely counted upon to be both an offensive and defensive catalyst, then it could spell another disappointing season for Heat fans

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  • everton fc

    The article’s about Brodie… But I’ve always liked Ben Walter. He’s scored a lot of points in the AHL – anyone know why he’s never been able to stick in the NHL? He’s not the biggest kid…

  • jeremywilhelm

    As is typical with Flames fans and their prospects, incredibly high expectations, when said expectations are not met (usually impossible) they are instantly labeled a near bust.

    Good to see an outside source giving a perspective on a kid who i think has a very bright future

    • I don’t know…I don’t see anyone writing off Brodie or assuming he’s a bust because he didn’t make the team out of camp this year. I personally still consider him one of the best prospects Calgary has.

      • jeremywilhelm

        There were people on here and a few other locations actively saying Brodie was/is a huge dissapointment this year because he didn’t blow the doors off. Silliness I say.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Hey Kent,

        It would be nice to see a player profile as well as general news on the Heat from time to time. Is this in the plans this year? It would be really good during the NHL All Star week when most of us would like to follow real hockey stories.

  • icedawg_42

    He said he purposely tempered back on trying to score, and concentrated on his defensive game…not sure how a defensive defenseman is supposed to blow your doors off…He did what they asked of him, and he’ll continue to develop nicely if he keeps following instruction.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Well the issue with that is, he wasn’t exactly great defensively, either (not that it should be an expectation at 21). Here’s to the hope that he just ends up being a good, well-rounded two way defenceman. His offensive instincts are too good for him to transform into a defensive specialist; it would be a waste.

      • icedawg_42

        I totally agree – a good puck moving D man with offensive instincts as a great commodity – I was just saying, reportedly he’s working really hard on his defensive game.