How good is TJ Brodie?

It’s arguable which Flames youngster is considered the first pillar of the post-Iginla rebuild. Most probably consider it to be Sean Monahan or Johnny Gaudreau. Maybe some are waiting for Sam Bennett or Matthew  Tkachuk to become the icon of a new era. 

I contend it’s T.J. Brodie. The 26-year-old defender’s rise from obscurity was one of the first indications that the team might have a future beyond Iginla and the old guard. In fact, it was the Jay Bouwmeester trade in 2012 that gave us a hint of how good Brodie was going to be.

A former fourth round pick, Brodie was considered a good, but not great, NHL prospect when he was in junior. His point total jumped up markedly during his draft+1 year, but that can be said of a lot of players. It wasn’t until his 20-year-old training camp where Brodie started to really stand out as a prospect of note in the organization. 

He made the show out of camp that year, but didn’t stick. Nevertheless, Brodie made an impression and likely would have made the team out of camp the next season but for the lockout.

Instead Brodie established himself as the Abbotsford Heat’s top defender. Although he only managed three points in 12 AHL games that year, it was often clear that Brodie was the best player on the team whenever anyone watched the Flames’ farm team. The sophomore was playing almost 30 minutes a night and made Chris Breen look serviceable before being called up when the lockout finally ended. 

Brodie was a third pairing option for the Flames for a brief period, but moved up the rotation when the Flames gave in to the rebuild and traded away Iginla and Bouwmeester. The kid moved up to play with Mark Giordano on the Flames’ top pairing for the rest of the year, and put up better underlying results than the departed veteran in the same role. That was eye-opening. 

Since then, Brodie has never stopped getting better. He’s long since surpassed Bouwmeester as an NHL defender. His results were so good after just 100 games in the NHL, I argued the Flames should eschew a bride deal and sign Brodie long-term. A year later, Steve MacFarlane argued Brodie could one day battle for the Norris Trophy. Sound ridiculous? Read on.

The Various Conquests of T.J. Brodie

When he first broke into the league, Duncan Keith was considered a comparable to Brodie, in style if not in quality. Suggesting Brodie could ever match up to the Norris trophy winner seemed grotesquely optimistic at the time, but…

Story 1-11

– Over the last three seasons, Brodie places eighth overall amongst regular defenders in terms of relative corsi/60 (all shot attempts against). And aside from Giordano (second overall), Brodie plays in way tougher circumstances than the other guys in that list:

Brodie2

– In fact, since October 2013, Brodie has started 430 more shifts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone at 5on5. Brian Campbell, in contrast, started 118 more shifts in the offensive zone. That’s a differential of 548 offensive zone starts between the two players. 

– Brodie has played the sixth most even strength minutes in the league over the last three seasons, even though he appeared in just 232 games (due to injury). The five guys ahead of him are: Ryan Suter, Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Brian Campbell and Shea Weber.

– Brodie is 13th overall in terms of even strength points by a defensemen over the same time frame with 64. That’s only 10 back of the aforementioned Keith and eight back of partner Giordano. 

– Brodie is already 12th all time amongst Flames defensemen in points with 145. He’s in line to move up to eighth this season, right behind Dion Phaneuf.

– If we limit that to defenders 25 and younger, Brodie moves to up seventh in points amongst Flames franchise defenders. 

– Oh yeah, he makes plays like this:

I don’t know if Brodie will ever get a shot at the Norris, but there’s no question he has established himself as a cornerstone defender on the Flames. He remains perhaps one of the most underrated players in the league and boasts one of the best value contracts around. He will be a key to any success the Flames find in the post-Iginla epoch.

How Good Is…?

  • OKG

    About as good as Scott Niedermayer in his prime and I am not being facetious. His shot generation will always lag playing right side, if he played the left more he’d have better iFenwick but I think he’s a better playmaker from the right.

      • beloch

        Hamilton was able to play top pairing with Chara two seasons ago. The only reason he didn’t play on the first pairing much last season is because Hartley had little confidence in him for most of the season. Hartley was a great coach in many respects, but his illogical treatment of newer players was a major weakness. Denis Wideman actually had a higher TOI/gm than Hamilton!

        Hamilton spent most of last season paired with Russel, who was a possession anchor on the second pair. To make matters worse, Hamilton and Russel didn’t have good chemistry. Once Russel was traded, Hamilton played with most of the remaining players on the blueline. WOWY says he made both Giordano and Brodie better, although that was likely because Hartley didn’t give Hamilton+Brodano the toughest assignments. Dougie actually made Wideman and Engelland so much better that they looked competent on the second pair even though both are really third pairing guys. Smid’s CF% shot up a whopping 14.4% with Hamilton versus without. Any guy who can carry Smid is a freakin’ possession god in my books. The other third pairing defenders that played with Hamilton (e.g. Jokipakka) struggled under the increased responsibility.

        The Flames have a very strange combination of three first paring defenders and a bunch of third pairing defenders. One of Dougie, Brodie, or Gio is going to have to carry a much weaker guy on the second pair. It was Hamilton’s turn last season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these three rotate a bit more this season. It would be ideal if somebody like Nakladal, Wotherspoon, Jokipakka, or Kulak takes a big step forward next season and proves to be a clear second pairing defender.

        • Prototype369

          Just to add to your comment concerning Kris Russell’s horrendous impact on possession, Dave Lozo just wrote an article on VICE sports grading every NHL team’s off season. Calgary placed third best, but that’s inconsequential, as both Lozo and VICE sports should be taken with several grains of salt, but the paragraph at the very end kills me:

          “Wait, why is this list 30 to 0 instead of 31 to 1? Because every team gets bumped up one spot for not signing Kris Russell. Whichever team signs him, go back and knock them down five spots.”

          That’s how bad it is.

        • OKG

          Playing with Bergeron, Chara, Rask, and Marchand he “played” top pairing but not very well as Boston Fans pointed out. Dougie was at his best in 2013-14 playing second pair with Seidenberg while Boychuk played top pair. Dougie will get better, as he gets stronger and adds experience. But the jump to top pair is an overwhelming one that degrades the quality of play of our top pair while we have Mark friggin Giordano there. Even Shattenkirk and Brent Burns are still second pair guys, there is no shame in that so long as Dougie gets PP1 usage.

          • beloch

            You’re just quoting the Bruins fans who were salty after the trade. In 2014-2015, Hamilton had a CF% of 54.94% on the top pair and 42 points. Even in 2013-2014, Hamilton played 663 minutes with Chara and just 195 with Seidenberg. He was predominantly top pairing even then. In fact, in his very first NHL season, 2012-2013, Hamilton played with Chara (244 minutes) just barely less than with Seidenberg (265 minutes).

            Given that Giordano, and arguably Brodie, are just as good as Chara, if not better, Hamilton absolutely could play on the top pair, and likely will. Don’t drink the Hartley kookaid man. Dougie’s a stud, and could be even better than Brodie if developed properly.

          • Kevin R

            At 22 he has probably accomplished a lot more than what Brodie did at age 22. That’s what I get a chuckle about when I read some Hamilton haters. The kid is so young yet, we haven’t seen his ceiling yet. We don’t know that yet with Brodie, but even if he has reached his ceiling, he’s amazing. It kind of frustrates me because we now have the best tandem goaltenders going into next season than what we have had in years. If we didn’t have those anchor Wideman & Smid contracts, we could have easily gone after a bonafide #4 D. I see Elliott in a contract year, Hamilton poised to have a much better year & I see some of our young forwards like Ferland ready to take a big step as well in a contract year. We are going to have a decent year, just my projection & it would be even better if we didn’t have these boat anchors to drag along next year.

          • Baalzamon

            And even with all that, as good as he is right now, Hamilton is still so, so raw. There’s a lot in his game that hasn’t yet fully developed. He shows flashes of his physical side, for example, but doesn’t use it consistently.

            But that’s one of the things we love about Brodie. As polished as he is, he always seems to have another level he can reach.

          • Burnward

            Love Dougie, but can’t blame Hartley for the big kid sucking hard for the first quarter.

            Maybe it was the trade, the upheaval at a young age. But until almost Christmas, he was god awful.

          • freethe flames

            I think back to the season and I see Gio coming back from a serious injury, Dougie with a new team and an injured TJ below average goaltending little wonder they struggled.

            I just hope that GG finds someone who is the right fit to play in the top 4; whether it’s JJ, Spoon. Kulak or Nakdaddy(if he ever gets signed). I just don’t think that either Wides or Eng’s are top 4 defenders.

  • Prototype369

    Brodie is simply the best and most important player on the flames roster. Gaudreau, Bennett and Hamilton are gonna be amazing players, but Brodie is just insane.

    • Scary Gary

      Exactly, just look at how bad we were to start the season without him last year.

      My first memory of Brodie was him fly by me on some sort of relay as I watched the flames skills competition (2010 or 2011); he was so fast and smooth I couldn’t believe he was a defenseman.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    My favorite player. I’ll take an under-rated $4 million Norris level ability on my team every day.

    Anyone get the sense with all our exciting D prospects on the horizon that we may have a tough decision with Gio in about 3 years time?

  • brodiegio4life

    most underrated player in the league no question, if he shot it a bit more like gio he’d be a top 5 dman in the league, I mean he’s already top 10 IMO

  • Schmenkley

    Brodie is by far the single most under-appreciated player in the league. As others before me have stated, I see a Niedermayer comparison a lot easier than I do the Duncan one. Brodie’s skating ability and the ease in which he is able to go in deep on a rush and yet still be able to be responsible defensively on the counter-attack is what sets him apart.

    The goal he scored last year against, I think it was Boston, where he went deep in the zone to the left of the goalie and scored over the shoulder was so eerily similar to the Niedermayer goal from a few years ago that it was uncanny.

    Happy he is a Flame; ecstatic at the salary.

  • piscera.infada

    That highlight pack just made me want to watch hockey really bad (that goal at 6:28 is straight filth–everything about it).

    Brodie is my favourite defenseman in the league. We’re lucky we get to watch him 82 times a year. Great dude too.

  • freethe flames

    Like many on this site I think Brodie is great, as I do Gio but I wonder if it is time to see them play with some of the other players to develop the depth of the defenders in the organization. I think back to the playoffs when Gio was injured; TJ playing on a bad ankle made Eng’s look like an NHLer (note Eng was better last year than I expected). I would like to see the Flames resign Nakladal as I personally thought he was a better overall fit to their core than either Wides or Engs and signing him would give them more flexibility.

    I would love to see GG experiment with these pairings in the preseason: Nakdaddy(yes I know he needs to be signed) and TJ, Dougie and either Spoon or JJ, and Anderson with Gio. This would leave Engs as the 7th/8th defender and Wides being traded. Veteran players should be able to help young guys develop. Play the top 3 together when the game is on the line but on a nightly basis IMO if you can play 3 pairings on a regular basis your team gets stronger.

  • Jake the Snail

    “How good is TJ Brodie?”

    Answer: As good as he wants to be!

    Skys the limit for this guy….No hate on Hamilton here. Flames have 3 top pairing D-man.