Paying Tj Brodie


TJ Brodie


– pic via kkthemook

The Calgary Flames only have two pending restricted free agents of serious importance this summer: Mikael Backlund and TJ Brodie. Last year, it was an open question whether Mikael would get another contract with the Flames after an injury and percentages hampered season. This year he got hurt again, but was clearly one of the best forwards on the ice in the games he managed to play. His re-signing shouldn’t be an issue.

TJ Brodie is a slightly more interesting case. The 23-year old defender entered the season as a healthy scratch but rapidly worked his way up the depth chart before ultimately finishing the year as a fixture on the top pairing. Brodie didn’t score a lot of points during his rapid ascent, but there’s no question he’s considered one of the brightest spots in the organization moving forward. He was voted the team’s MVP and best defenseman in FN’s year-end awards article last month.

So whereas the team was (and may be) a little more ambivalent about Backlund’s current and future value, they shouldn’t be similarly conflicted with Brodie.

Roman Josi and Comparables

The topic is of interest because the Predators recently re-signed 23-year old Roman Josi to a 7-year, $28M contract ($4M/year). Like Brodie, Josi was a sophomore in 2013 and found himself playing on the club’s top pairing. The difference is, Josi played with Shea Weber and faced tougher competition than Brodie in aggregate. He scored 18 points to Brodie’s 14 in one more game played, so there isn’t much separation there. 

Josi doesn’t have the sort of underlying possession stats of Brodie, however, finishing under water in both of his first two seasons in Nashville. To be fair to Roman, he has never played in easy circumstances in his NHL career, whereas Brodie spent his entire rookie season facing the soft parade.

I doubt the Flames are interested in committing quite that much time and money to a relatively untested player (however encouraging his season) and I really doubt Brodie has the sort of leverage that would ratchet his salary up to $4M/year. That said, the Nashville model may be a good template for the Flames: commit relatively long-term to the player and bet on improving play and a rising cap to deliver value. This means Brodie might be slightly more expensive in the short term, but will turn out to be cheaper for the team in his prime years down the road.

I suggested a deal of 2.5M over 4 years on twitter this morning. That would take TJ to his 27th birthday and should give the Flames at least 2-3 solid years of above average value, assuming he continues to develop in the right direction. 

Another reason to avoid a one or two year short-term deal is illustrated by the PK Subban affair this year. The Montreal Canadiens battled with their Subban over his RFA contract, leading to a short hold-out and eventually a low-ball 2 year, $2.61M/deal. They got tremendous value for those dollars in the short term since Subban will win the Norris this year, but that also means they are going to pay out the nose when his contract comes up for renewal at the end of 2014.

Obviously that is an extreme example and Brodie won’t be challenging for the Norris at any point, but there is clearly some risk in going short and cheap with a player who has a decently high-ceiling.

I think my favorite comparable for Brodie currently is Phoenix defender Oliver-Ekman Larsson in terms of style of play and impact. OEL is actually younger than Brodie having made the show as a teenager, but his progress over the years kind of mirrors the Flames youngster: he went from a capable third pairing guy with some question marks to a blueliner who can face top-sixers in tough circumstances and still advance the puck forward. Both guys aren’t physically punishing, but use mobility, smarts and puck distribution to get the job done. Neither guy is going to win the scoring race for defenders either, but both can put a solid number of points on the board.

Ekman-Larsson recently re-upped for 6 years at $5.5M per year, which suggests a potential ceiling for Brodie’s future demands if he continues the perform as well (or better) as he did this past season.


Jay Feaster has an interesting conundrum with Brodie this summer – either he signs him to a relatively long-term deal and risks locking in a player who turns out to be not worth the commitment or he goes short term and risks Brodie establishing himself as a true top pairing defender and becoming much more expensive to retain.

Around the Nation

In a recent look at a Rollie Melanson interview, Thomas Drance notes the former Montreal goalie coach shouldn’t be badmouthing his ex-charge Carey Price:

While Melanson seems like a pretty competent goaltending coach, which might partially explain why he feels comfortable speaking so freely to the local press in New Brunswick, his boast about Carey Price’s atrophying discipline and effectiveness doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

The rest here.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I’d be alright with signing him to a somewhat shorter term contract. If Brodie continues to progress and develop and becomes an impact player seeking a hefty raise, I think that’s a problem we would welcome. It will probably be nice for him to not have to live up to huge expectations on a big contract on a rebuilding team as well.
    To sum up, I’m alright with having to dish out big $$$ to Brodie in a couple years if he turns into a legit #1-2 Dman and deserves a big raise.

    • SmellOfVictory

      1) If the Flames are stupid and decide not to qualify him.

      2) If Brodie hates playing for the Flames and refuses to sign here.

      That’s about the extent of it. As long as Brodie is good with the team, the Flames should be able to sign him before having to worry about offer sheets and the like.

      From a contract standpoint, I favour something extreme for Brodie: if they can get him to sign something like 8 years, $3m AAV, I support it.

  • icedawg_42

    I don’t see him signing for less than 3M. And that would be with a 4 year term. Don’t ask me why I feel that way, I just get that vibe. I would be fairly ok with it too, ESPECIALLY if he can continue to play top pairing minutes. Also, if the Flames are ambivalent on Backlund, then they’re idiotic. Sign him.

  • icedawg_42

    I would be surprised if CAL wouldn’t match an offer sheet of 2 years, 3.35 mil per year, but at the cost of a 2nd round if CAL failed to match, might be worth a gamble

  • Colin.S

    People were getting all might upset with me when I said Feaster should have made it a priority to sign him once the off season for the Flames started. They said he had better things to do like sign Reto. Well now look, Brodie’s got a just silly contract comparable now. Had Feaster taken even half a minute and even talked to Brodie’s agent, we could have avoided this situation. Pretty sure Brodie can get an offer sheet as well, and I could easily see a team desperate for D(Or Colorado for retribution) sign him to a contract like this, probably closer to 5 years 3.5M though. It’s not a bad deal to match if he plays like the last 20 games, but if he isn’t that guy and it was just an illusion, than that’s a crappy deal to be stuck with.

    Good to see Feaster is getting Nic Petan to Calgary for second interviews/meetings/testings instead of signing Brodie to what could have been a really reasonable deal for us once the season was done.

    • supra steve

      I still think you are over-reacting on this issue. This is pretty routine stuff for an NHL GM and it will get done. When the season ended TJ went to Europe to play and Feaster went ahead with other things that he needed to get done. It’s not like he had a choice to make between signing Reto or signing TJ, both will be signed before camp…unless TJ and his agent have unrealistic expectations, like $5mil/yr.

      As for your statement…”Had Feaster taken even half a minute and even talked to Brodie’s agent, we could have avoided this situation”.

      30 seconds? What was he going to say in 30 seconds? Is that how much time it takes to hammer out an NHL contract? And what “situation” was he going to prevent? Routine stuff.

      • Colin.S

        How about, “Hey TJ, we are going to be busy this coming few months with our large amount of first rounders and such, how bout you and your agent give us an offer as we are kinda busy.”

        Something to get the ball rolling, by sitting and waiting, we are now(Thanks Nashville) in the territory of giving guys with all of 100 games in the NHL a 7 year deal. Now Feaster is stuck negotiating with Brodie’s camp with deals like Josi as a comparable. And if Feaster keeps waiting, there are teams like the Flyers who showed last year they have no problem throwing out long, overly expensive contracts to defencemen. Or there’s the Av’s who may want a little revenge after the fun we left them in the ROR debacle(The QO is just silly if he doesn’t live up to expectations).

        Yes the draft is incredibly important, but I don’t want to see Feaster ignore Brodie only for that situation to blow up in his face.

        • Colin.S

          Yeah this situation has gone totally out of control there is no chance we can sign Brodie to anything less than a 7 year deal now that exactly one person got a 7 year deal….we are so screwed….

          seriously he’s not being ignored there is a process and other issues to cover. like the draft and the calgary flames combine for the prospects they like. This is an important year and Feaster knows it. This draft has to be a win so they want their ducks in a row. they also are getting their prospects who are turning pro set up properly for the summer so they know what they need to do to be able to come in and compete next year. oh yeah and signing actual free agents like berra and ramo. I’m sure there are about a million other things that they need to do before they worry about extending the qualifying offers to the rfa’s they want to keep and telling the ones they don’t they can go on their merry way. Either way I’m not a GM so I don’t know the in’s and out’s but really man simmer down just a bit and breath a little.

          • T&A4Flames

            Yep. And don’t forget that the GM still has to worry about the AHL team and its competitiveness which is vitally important to the long term success of the organization. There are also functions to worry about etc. etc. Brodie and Backs will be qualified and then negotiations will commence. Maybe Brodie becomes a part of a bigger deal (IT BETTER BE A GREAT F’n DEAL!!!) that brings in better young players overall.

            It’ll get done.

          • Colin.S

            Feaster doesn’t much deal with Abbotsford anymore, I believe that position has moved on to Conroy if I’m not mistaken.

            As well What kind of deal would bring in better younger players? You are going to move a potential #1 defender who has 8 or more years of prime left in him for what?

          • T&A4Flames

            You have really narrow vision, eh.

            It was simply a statement on potential for Feaster. I’m not suggesting he gets traded but Feaster SHOULD keep all his options open. Stop being so damn negative and panicky. Relax.

  • Colin.S

    I’d even be fine if the flames went as high as 3.5m for Brodie. I’m thinking something like 2.5, 2.5, 3.0, 3.0, $3.0M over 5 years is a reasonable with a 500K/season performance bonus offered in season 4 and 5. This gives Brodie a reasonable salary for a young unproven defenceman. It’s not ridiculous and it keeps his qualifying offer at a reasonable number down the road.

  • My intial reaction to the Josi deal was that I’d be perfectly happy with it for Brodie.

    Yes its taking a bit of a bet on a young player but with the term limits in the new CBA we are going to see some absolutely gigantic AAVs going forward. 4mil per is going to look mighty cheap in 4-7 years just due to inflation alone.

    I also think its a fairly reasonable bet that Brodie grows into his contract and provides great value of the last few years of that type of deal.

  • Parallex

    I think it’s counter-productive to sign someone to a deal that takes them just to their earliest opportunity at free agency (age 27)… either sign him to a deal that buys out some free agency years or only so long as to maintain RFA leverage.

    I’d also rather avoid making such a large committment to a player that has such a short track record. Let him prove himself over the first half of next year and then give him the long extension if he warrents it.

    • icedawg_42

      I don’t disagree with this. I said on twitter this morning, that If I were Brodie and really wanted to cash in, I’d take a short term bridge deal (assuming he’s confident that he can continue to develop at this pace) – works out for both parties: Brodie cashes in and for the Flames he’s a known quantity

      • Parallex

        I get that… and truth be told I wouldn’t have a big objection to giving him a multi-year deal. I’m just not sure how much half a year of top 4 worthy performance (extending him mid-season) would escalate his salary. Brodie isn’t really a “name” outside of Calgary, not like Phaneaf was, and I doubt that he’ll have offer-sheet suitors whispering in his agents ear. So I’d rather get that bit of assurance that he performs just as well in a bit of a larger non-post-deadline sample size before rolling out the long-term deal.

        Although like I said signing him to age 27 exactly is wasteful. Either sign him for more or less then that number but not age 27. That’s just inviting a player to go spend his prime years elsewhere or inviting yourself to pay more then you must.

        • Agree. Short term, see what you got for sure. I’d rather have to pay a bit more for a proven homegrown stud because we took it slow instead of paying long term on a dud. Not saying he is a dud, I agree the arrows look amazing. But he had very little leverage right now and I just think its prudent to go slow.

          Especially over the next 24-48 months when this team is going through a massive transformation. I think short contracts should be the rule for everyone in a rebuild beside superstars. Until we get one, I like going in small incremental steps…

    • Totally agree. That Josi deal doesn’t freak me out either for Brodie, that would take him to 30. I would love to see either of the following, 5 years @ 17.5mill(3.5per) or 6 years @ 22mill(3.67mill) or 7 years at the 28mill or 4.0mill per & his contract is equal to Gio’s. I consider Gio contract a very good value contract for the player & very tradeable. Brodie actually played better than Gio last year. I don’t think there is anyone on this site that does not feel Brodie is one of our future core players moving forward in this rebuild. JMO

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I think Calgary needs to sign him for the longest term contract possible. Since he hasn’t lit it up in any previous year, was a third round pick the leverage favours Calgary right now.

    My assumption is he is not going to regress (he played tough minutes at the end of the year and he seemed to thrive-his play improved) and he will actually improve.

    In the most non technical terms I can think of Brodie has moxie, he has ‘it’, he plays to make things happen. The most telling attribute to Brodie’s future projection is in the way he handled high pressure situations. He seemed to always make a play and he rose to the different challenges (be they pressure from speed, physicality, being down in a game etc.)

    He flat out makes plays from the back end to get the puck on guys’ sticks on the fly. It’s obvious if you’re watching.

    The best thing from Calgary’s perspective is he hasn’t blown up in points (and that is how you get paid. People don’t get paid for corsi, they get paid for counting stats).

    Brodie is only going to get more expensive with time. Lock him up now!

    • piscera.infada

      That’s a pretty large assumption though, if you ask me (which no one does). I like the kid, and I think he’ll be a heck of a player for us moving forward. I just don’t think you can throw term at him when all he’s really done is have a great half of a half season.

      He also looked a little overwhelmed at the World Championships, and ultimately ended up being demoted. I understand there’s a steep learning curve when it comes international tournies.

      In short though, the most pragmatic thing to do is give him his 3, or is it 4 year(?) deal, so that if he earns his contract and is still under RFA status – I have a hard time thinking the Flames would say no.

      • He also looked a little overwhelmed at the World Championships, and ultimately ended up being demoted. I understand there’s a steep learning curve when it comes international tournies.

        Meh. There was some odd decision making made the worlds. Ruff seemed to default to guys he knew more than anything else. Hell, Luke Schenn played more than Brodie and I’m sure Brodie is the superior player.

        If the kid had not killed it corsi wise the year before and then been the best player on the Heat during the lock-out, I’d be a lot more suspicious about him.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Actually, he was a 4th rounder if I recall.


      This will happen. There’s no reason to think it won’t.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Give him $2.5m until he’s 26, and then renew him long term again before he hits UFA.

    Brodie is the real deal. Top 4 defenceman already, with plenty of room to grow.

  • RKD

    I would be very surprised if Brodie took a hometown discount like Curtis Glencross although their situations were different. I would like to see Brodie signed for 4 years @ 12 million. It’s risky to overpay Brodie and I’m only saying this because what happens if the club decides to trade Gio in the offseason.

    Now you don’t have Gio, Jay-Bo, etc. What if Brodie has to play much harder minutes against stronger competition and then struggles mightily until more of the Flames kids are ready. He’s not going to get any help from guys like Butler or Wideman. Can Cundari step in and make some kind of impact?

    I really believe PK Subban was demanding north of $5 million then bit the bullet because he didn’t want sit out a whole season. After next season, he will rape the Canadiens for Shea Weber type of dough.

  • Derzie

    Since I care not iota 1 for Murray Edward’s cash, I’m all in for short term. What’s important to me is flexibility if things go well or poorly. Also, hungry guys play better. Fat contracts can create lazy play and country club mentality. 3 years tops at a fair market price. Bend on money, not on term. If a guy fights hard for term, he’s looking for a cushion. Renew or cut em loose as things progress. Unless your team is cash strapped, long term contracts make zero sense.

  • Tommynotsohuge

    Look at St. Louise guys. They have a few top RFAs not signed yet. Guys like Shattenkirk, Stewert, Pietrangelo and Berglund. They still haven’t signed those guys, and I bet negotiations haven’t even started yet.

    Relax!!!!! It will happen. Give your heads a shake

    • Colin.S

      lol, this argument, yeah cause the Flames and STL are in the exact same situation, yeah….

      STL has an internal cap as well have a bunch of guys coming off contracts next year, they can’t very well just blow their load this year without potentially screwing themselves over next year.

      Flames only cap is the league cap, they have TONS of cap room, only two RFA’s of any significance and haven’t been playing hockey a lot longer than the Blues.

      I’m not saying it won’t happen, but the longer Feaster lets this go on, the worse position he puts himself in. With more RFAs that go off the market the more a team desperate for D(Philly), it might open an opportunity for that Offer Sheet. Brodie now has a just silly contract comparable for a guy with just 100 games in the NHL.

      If Feaster signed him right after the season, chances are it could have been a shorter contract and lesser dollars, with Josi signing the years and dollars most likely have gone up.

      • Subversive

        Colin, dude, let it go. You worry too much. There are many many RFA’s out there unsigned, some more prominent names than Brodie as well, like Henrique, these guys are going to get signed, they know where they fit in $$$ value, Josi just helped TJ on the higher dollar side of the spectrum. TJ may not want a long term deal either. It’ll get hammered out, we’ll all debate the term & $$$ & that’ll be that. No one is going to offer sheet Brodie to an extent the Flames wouldn’t match. If Colorado tried a retaliatory OS like Orielly, let them, getting their 1st & 3rd round pick may not be that bad of a deal. Then we just go after Landeskog the following year. There are a lot of things we do need to worry about than this. Brodie’s & Backlund’s agents knows we have cap space up the ying yang, we have nothing in Dmen & centres & both players had good years. Don’t think they are worried about a deal. getting done either.

      • supra steve

        Nashville used to have an internal cap, once upon a time. Then they signed Pekka Rinne and (matched an offer sheet to) Shea Weber to big contracts in successive summers. Now they don’t have an internal cap.

        • Colin.S

          They still have a cap, they have just chosen to spend a significant portion of it on just a couple of players. They are still not even close to cap spending teams, this year they were still a middle of the road lower tier team in terms of cap.

          As well people bringing up Henrique, NJ is another team that has it’s own set of issues.

          Again, FOCUS on Calgary please, we have NO cap issues, out of teams that have cap space to spend, next to Toronto, we have the most(all the teams below us are not cap spending teams), so there’s no reason we need to hold back. We have a small number of players that need to be resigned, 4 total RFAs with 1 of those being Chris Butler, for the most part those shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Calgary has also been out of the playoff picture for a LONG time as well, so from that point on Feaster should have been assessing his on ice lineup and seeing who he wants back next year.

          I’m not saying he won’t be signed, what I’m saying is it’s worrisome that he and his agent haven’t been contacted at all. As well, Feaster has had plenty of time, if he had enough time to sign a backup goalie he had enough time to sign a first pairing defensemen to a reasonable contract. And now with new contracts being signed like Josi’s, it’s going to make Feasters job harder than it should have been.

          • Colin.S

            Far be it from me to question the wisdom of a fellow who saw something on twitter and took it as an excuse to panic. Who even reported that, NHL insider #3?

            At least wait until July to start worrying. We aren’t even halfway through June yet.

          • Colin.S

            It was Roger, who is pretty decently connected with the Flames, so not some random guy.

            I’m not worried about not signing him, what I’m worried about is that Jay Feaster is blowing a chance to have a potential GREAT D under a great contract because he has “better” things to do. Or because signing RFAs isn’t a priority cause it’s not like they are UFAs.

            The longer he waits, the bigger chance of more contracts like the Josi deal and the harder it gets to sign Brodie to something like 3yrs/2.75M which keeps him an RFA.

          • Parallex

            IMO Millions is only a half-step above random guy. This is no different then many many many many (really the vast majority) of RFA’s.

            Seriously guys, they havn’t even crowned the Stanley Cup Champion and people are worrying about RFA’s? There is less then nothing to worry about.

  • Subversive

    I really don’t see the Flames giving him anything over 2.5/yr. I’m guessing a 3 yr contract. I’d go 2, 2.2, 2.5. Don’t get me wrong, I like Brodie but he’s not worth more than that now. Too risky. He only was given the mega minutes after iggy left. Lots still to prove!

  • Colin.S

    you have to be relaxed and sensible, the flames need to offer brodie a contract similar to that of subban. long term at this stage is too high a risk, tj needs to prove more. we honestly dont have a true read on the kid. let him prove he is worth high dough.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The Flames currently have tons of cap room, which won’t likely be the case 5 – 7 years from now, if they are even marginally successful in this new “re-build”. Why not aim to sign Brodie really long term, but with a reasonable back dive once he hits 27 years old. For example, $3.8M for 5 years then $3M in years 6 and 7 and No trade restriction clauses. This gives the player a long term deal, that would be risky to turn down. It gives the Flames a player who will be a low cap hit, in the prime of his career, with the flexibility to trade him at any time.

    • supra steve

      I had a similar thought, if they can sign him to a longer term (6yr?) with mid range money (3-3.5million/yr?) then some of his cap hit for the later years gets prepaid in the early years when the team has cap room to spare. So he gets overpaid at $3.25mil over the next few years when they have the cap room, but underpaid at $3.25mil in the later years when the cap room may be tighter, having drafted some high end players who are coming off their entry level deals.

      Sure there are risks to a longer term deal, and no guarantee TJ wants a long term either. There’s more to consider in being a GM then just getting a player to sign for the lowest dollar figure over the next 2-3yr. I wish Feaster luck.

  • BurningSensation

    Two things;

    – Brodie is going to get term or $s, but probably not both. The leverage is almost entirely with the club for this contract. I would bet he signs a ‘bridge’ deal, 2 years @ $3m per. He’s a late pick with lousy counting stats (but good underlying #s), and they don’t win the lottery as RFAs.

    – There is ZERO urgency to sign him. None. Indeed, tactically it may make sense to wait till near the deadline to get the best deal.