We’ve talked a lot about TJ Brodie this season. It’s been impossible not to – the 4th round pick has gone from a competent third pairing defender to a probable top pairing guy in the space of a year. All before the age of 23. He led the blueline in relative possession last season and is poised to become a cornerstone of the rebuild on the back-end.
I wanted to take a look at his season to illustrate how things changed for Brodie as Bob Hartley gained confidence in the youngster. His average ice time was 20:13 by the end of the year, but that probably underestimates his season ending role, as well as what we can expect from him this upcoming year. This inquiry will also illustrate why I was personally advocating for a long-term contract for Brodie this summer as opposed to the actual bridge contract that was negotiated.
|Mar 11 ’13 CGY @ LAK||0||0||0||0||27||21:36|
|Mar 9 ’13 CGY @ LAK||0||0||0||-2||18||22:47|
|Mar 8 ’13 CGY @ ANA||0||0||0||-1||19||12:48|
|Mar 6 ’13 SJS @ CGY||0||1||1||1||22||18:13|
|Mar 3 ’13 VAN @ CGY||0||0||0||1||23||15:15|
|Feb 28 ’13 CGY @ COL||0||0||0||-1||23||15:51|
|Feb 26 ’13 CGY @ MIN||0||0||0||0||27||16:58|
|Feb 24 ’13 PHX @ CGY||0||0||0||0||21||17:57|
|Feb 23 ’13 MIN @ CGY||0||0||0||-1||26||14:12|
|Feb 20 ’13 LAK @ CGY||1||0||1||0||27||18:22|
|Feb 18 ’13 CGY @ PHX||0||0||0||-2||30||22:18|
|Feb 17 ’13 CGY @ DAL||0||0||0||-1||25||20:35|
|Feb 15 ’13 STL @ CGY||0||0||0||-2||21||19:02|
|Feb 13 ’13 DAL @ CGY||0||1||1||2||29||16:19|
|Feb 11 ’13 MIN @ CGY||0||0||0||0||25||20:05|
|Feb 9 ’13 CGY @ VAN||0||0||0||-1||23||19:32|
|Feb 7 ’13 CGY @ CBJ||0||2||2||3||25||18:55|
|Feb 5 ’13 CGY @ DET||0||0||0||2||24||20:18|
|Feb 2 ’13 CHI @ CGY||0||0||0||0||26||19:01|
|Jan 31 ’13 COL @ CGY||0||0||0||0||26||20:02|
|Jan 26 ’13 EDM @ CGY||0||0||0||0||22||14:43|
|Jan 23 ’13 CGY @ VAN||0||0||0||0||20||15:43|
|Jan 21 ’13 ANA @ CGY||0||1||1||0||20||14:05|
I gathered the ice times from NHL.com, so the sequence moves from the bottom up in these tables.
Brodie’s average ice time through the first 23 games of the season was just over 18 minutes. His high water mark was 22:47 on March 9 versus the Kings. He crested 20 minutes 7 times in 23 games (30%) and 22 minutes twice.
|Apr 26 ’13 CGY @ CHI||0||0||0||-1||22||16:52|
|Apr 25 ’13 CGY @ STL||0||0||0||1||27||24:38|
|Apr 23 ’13 CGY @ NSH||1||0||1||-1||25||19:37|
|Apr 21 ’13 CGY @ MIN||0||2||2||0||34||27:59|
|Apr 19 ’13 ANA @ CGY||0||0||0||2||29||23:33|
|Apr 17 ’13 DET @ CGY||0||0||0||2||30||25:02|
|Apr 15 ’13 MIN @ CGY||0||0||0||-1||25||22:21|
|Apr 13 ’13 CGY @ EDM||0||2||2||0||29||22:22|
|Apr 12 ’13 PHX @ CGY||0||1||1||0||34||24:08|
|Apr 10 ’13 VAN @ CGY||0||0||0||0||29||26:00|
|Apr 8 ’13 CGY @ COL||0||0||0||0||32||24:14|
|Apr 6 ’13 CGY @ VAN||0||0||0||0||30||22:03|
|Apr 5 ’13 CGY @ SJS||0||0||0||-1||31||26:27|
|Apr 3 ’13 EDM @ CGY||0||0||0||-1||28||22:19|
|Apr 1 ’13 CGY @ EDM||0||0||0||0||28||23:53|
|Mar 29 ’13 CBJ @ CGY||0||0||0||-3||25||18:31|
|Mar 27 ’13 COL @ CGY||0||0||0||1||25||21:26|
|Mar 26 ’13 CGY @ CHI||0||0||0||0||27||21:12|
|Mar 24 ’13 STL @ CGY||0||1||1||-1||31||23:15|
|Mar 22 ’13 CGY @ CBJ||0||0||0||-2||28||18:42|
|Mar 21 ’13 CGY @ NSH||0||0||0||-2||26||20:30|
|Mar 18 ’13 CGY @ DAL||0||1||1||-1||24||19:02|
|Mar 15 ’13 NSH @ CGY||0||0||0||-1||26||22:39|
|Mar 13 ’13 DET @ CGY||0||0||0||2||26||21:36|
The shift in the second half of the year is significant. Brodie’s ice time obviously increased after the Flames dealt Jay Bouwmeester (April 1), but he was already on the ascent prior to the deal. In this 24 game segment, Brodie’s average ice jumped to 22:26, a more than five minute bump over his first half – the biggest ice time increase on the Flames blueline in the wake of the Bouwmeester deal.
Twenty plus minutes a night was a far more regular occurence for Brodie in this sample: 19 of 24 or 79%. He broke 22 minutes 14 times. His segment (and season) high ice time was 27:59 (!), which he managed against Minnesota on April 21.
The loss of Bouwmeester seems to be skewing Brodie’s ice time, but the fact is the Flames are entering the season with more or less the exact same blueline (plus/minus a Kris Russell and Corey Sarich), so there’s a good chance Brodie will be deployed in a similar manner moving forward. In addition, the kid didn’t falter in the face of increased ice time and responsibilty – his underlying numbers including corsi and scoring chances continued to be above board even as he moved up the rotation. That he wasn’t hopelessly overwhelmed means there’s a good chance Brodie’s ice will remain constant or climb as he develops over the next two seasons. Particularly if guys like Giordano and Wideman lose a step or are dealt at some point.
This is relevant to Brodie’s contract debate because once a guy starts banking 22+ minutes a night, he’s entering rarified air in the NHL. Last year, a 22:26/game ice time would have placed Brodie 51st in the league between Tobias Enstrom (22:31) and Alex Goligoski (22:23). Some other recognizable names within range were Victor Hedman (22:39), Slava Voynov (22:18) and Brent Seabrook (21:54). If he improves over the next two seasons and solidifies a top-2 position on the club, he only needs to bump his average ice time by about a minute to get inside the NHL’s top-30 blueliners by that metric.
Here is that list of defenders from 2012-13. You’ll notice almost none of them are a bargain outside of Justin Falk. Dennis Seidenberg may be the cheapest guy on the list outside of Falk at $3.25M/year. eyeballing things, my guess is the average price-tag is north of $4.5M.
Obviously there’s also a chance Brodie doesn’t maintain last year’s performance level and his ice time falls, but all the arrows are pointing in the right direction: his underlying numbers (team best), his age (23) and the construction of the roster all suggest Brodie’s ice time will, at minimum, reflect the second half of his 2012-13 season, if not rise as he continues to develop.
The good news if that happens is the Flames are getting a huge bargain at his new price point ($2.125M) over the next two seasons.
We’ll assess the potential bad news in two years time when the cap is about $70M…