Let’s face it: Team Canada is stacked. Crazy stacked. This has been especially true in recent history, so if a player from your favourite NHL team ever makes it on a Canadian roster, you know he’s probably really, really good – because that’s a hard spot to earn.
But the Flames have two players capable of playing for their country: arguably the best defence pairing in the entire NHL, as they have been since they were put together three seasons ago.
Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are both formidable defenders, both of whom have been discussed as possibilities to make the team. Giordano looked to be en route to back-to-back Norris campaign seasons were it not for injuries, while this season, people are finally recognizing Brodie – and finally recognizing he may even be the better of the two.
Neither have been named to Team Canada… possibly yet. This is only an initial roster reveal, 16 players chosen first to be on the team. The remaining spots will be decided by June 1, which definitely gives both Giordano and Brodie a chance to still be named to the tournament.
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) March 2, 2016
Shea Weber and Marc-Edouard Vlasic named this early over other defenders – not even just Giordano and Brodie, but guys like P.K. Subban and Kris Letang – are definite head scratchers. But there are limited roster spots, and still time to fill things out. (And make the right choices.)
I’m just here to provide arguments for two Flames defencemen.
Here’s the thing with both Giordano and Brodie: they play phenomenally well in all situations, on every corner of the ice, and don’t sacrifice any of their defensive talents to put points on the board. In the NHL, they play the toughest competition on the Flames; and with raw 5v5 CFs of 50.93% (Giordano) and 50.03% (Brodie), they’re two of just four positive possession players on their team.
They can handle being up against the best. They can also burn the very best. They play power play, they play penalty kill. You ask them to do something, and they’ll do it.
This season, Giordano has 38 points through 63 games, placing him ninth in Canadian defencemen scoring. He has a little bit of international experience, having represented Canada in three tournaments: the 2008 Spengler Cup, and the 2010 World Championships. It’s possible an injury during the 2013-14 season cost him a spot on Canada’s 2014 Olympic team, too; and he was the Norris favourite in 2014-15 before his season ended prematurely with a torn bicep.
But if there’s a choice between Giordano and Brodie, the spot has to go to Brodie. He’s rocketed up to 40 points in 54 games this season, on the verge of setting a new career high. His 40 points place him fifth in Canadian defencemen scoring, but three of the four players above him have played more games than him, Letang being the lone exception.
And Brodie isn’t even known for his offence. This makes sense, because he doesn’t shoot the puck much (he’s the only Canadian defencemen in the top 20 for scoring who hasn’t even managed 100 shots on net yet), and only has four goals to his season. But his vision and passing is incredible, which explains his high volume of assists. And most impressive about his entire game is his skating, allowing him to get on the ice wherever he needs to be – and if he has to go through five opposing players to get from one end of the ice to the other, he will. We’ve all seen it happen. Multiple times.
Brodie is definitely passing Giordano in terms of importance. He may not wear the Captain’s ‘C’, but he’s cemented himself as the Flames’ number one defenceman this season.
He’s just barely had the chance to represent his country on the national stage, having only played in the 2013 World Championships: he had one assist over seven games in Canada’s fifth place finish.
But when Canada’s final roster is named, he should undoubtedly be on it. He’s been overlooked throughout his career to date – and this is the season we seem to be turning that corner. A roster spot on the World Cup team would be one way to announce his presence to the mainstream: this guy isn’t just a niche defender only western Canada has bothered to watch, he’s one of the best in the world, so you’d better get used to hearing his name.
(Or at least I hope so. Because if he’s not on that final roster – well, I hope Johnny Gaudreau burns everybody in his path. I feel very strongly about this.)
As long as Brodie keeps up his current level of play through the rest of the NHL season, though – and probably gains a little more international experience, assuming he’s invited to the World Championships and doesn’t turn it down – then he should give Team Canada plenty of reason to not look him over.