How many defencemen cost more than TJ Brodie?

T.J. Brodie has to be one of the NHL’s most under-appreciated players. This past season, he was 11th in ice time per game out of all defenders with 25:15. His 45 points in 70 games saw him place 18th out of all defencemen; change that to points per game, and he jumps up to 13th.

He could very easily be considered a number one guy, were it not for the fact his defence partner is Mark Giordano. Even then, though, the two put up such formidable numbers together, one could easily make a case for them being one of the very best defence pairings in the league.

And yet, Brodie’s name doesn’t carry the weight Giordano’s does. His cap hit of just $4.65 million doesn’t carry it, either.

In the upcoming 2016-17 season, Brodie will be 51st in cap hits out of all defencemen.

Who makes more?

Gather around, everyone, for the list of 50 defencemen general managers throughout the NHL have decided should cost more than Brodie. Three of them – Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and Dennis Wideman – are on his own team.

Player Team Age (2016-17 Season) 2016-17 Cap Hit Career Points per Game
P.K. Subban Nashville Predators 27 $9 million .64
Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens 31 $7.86 million .58
Dustin Byfuglien Winnipeg Jets 31 $7.6 million .59
Ryan Suter Minnesota Wild 31 $7.54 million .64
Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins 29 $7.25 million .63
Dion Phaneuf Ottawa Senators 31 $7 million .53
Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings 26 $7 million .52
Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins 39 $6.92 million .45
Brent Seabrook Chicago Blackhawks 31 $6.88 million .43
Mark Giordano Calgary Flames 33 $6.75 million .51
Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues 26 $6.5 million .56
Erik Karlsson Ottawa Senators 26 $6.5 million .80
Keith Yandle Florida Panthers 30 $6.35 million .56
Johnny Boychuk New York Islanders 32 $6 million .29
Mike Green Detroit Red Wings 31 $6 million .61
Erik Johnson Colorado Avalanche 28 $6 million .42
Brent Burns San Jose Sharks 31 $5.76 million .53
Andrei Markov Montreal Canadiens 37 $5.75 million .58
Tobias Enstrom Winnipeg Jets 31 $5.75 million .47
Matt Niskanen Washington Capitals 29 $5.75 million .35
Dougie Hamilton Calgary Flames 23 $5.75 million .48
Marc Staal New York Rangers 29 $5.7 million .24
Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks 33 $5.54 million .55
Brooks Orpik Washington Capitals 36 $5.5 million .20
Dan Girardi New York Rangers 32 $5.5 million .30
Andrej Sekera Edmonton Oilers 30 $5.5 million .33
Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens 28 $5.5 million .27
Tyler Myers Winnipeg Jets 26 $5.5 million .42
Nick Leddy New York Islanders 25 $5.5 million .41
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Arizona Coyotes 25 $5.5 million .50
Alex Goligoski Arizona Coyotes 31 $5.48 million .49
Jay Bouwmeester St. Louis Blues 33 $5.4 million .38
Seth Jones Columbus Blue Jackets 22 $5.4 million .35
Mark Streit Philadelphia Flyers 38 $5.25 million .57
Dennis Wideman Calgary Flames 33 $5.25 million .49
Torey Krug Boston Bruins 25 $5.25 million .52
Jared Spurgeon Minnesota Wild 26 $5.19 million .35
Zach Bogosian Buffalo Sabres 26 $5.14 million .33
Andy Greene New Jersey Devils 33 $5 million .29
Alexander Edler Vancouver Canucks 30 $5 million .45
Andrew MacDonald Philadelphia Flyers 30 $5 million .28
Danny DeKeyser Detroit Red Wings 26 $5 million .32
Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs 22 $5 million .39
Chris Pronger Arizona Coyotes 42 $4.94 million .60
Marc Methot Ottawa Senators 31 $4.9 million .21
Sami Vatanen Anaheim Ducks 25 $4.88 million .51
Paul Martin San Jose Sharks 35 $4.85 million .38
Justin Faulk Carolina Hurricanes 24 $4.83 million .48
Niklas Kronwall Detroit Red Wings 35 $4.75 million .49
Ryan McDonagh New York Rangers 27 $4.7 million .44
T.J. Brodie Calgary Flames 26 $4.65 million .43

It should be noted that typically, as the cap has gone up, so have player salaries. Then again, Brodie was re-signed early on n the 2014-15 season, which wasn’t that long ago.

Older defencemen tend to get the higher cap hits; by this point in their careers, many teams are paying for what they have done, rather than what they will do. At age 26, Brodie is the ninth youngest player on this list, tied with seven other players, who range from DeKeyser ($5 million cap hit) up to Doughty ($7 million).

And while points aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all with defencemen, if you’re paying that much for a player, he’d better be contributing on the scoreboard. 

Among this group, Brodie is 31st, at .432 points per game. Seabrook just edges him out at .435 points per game. Seabrook is also five years older and roughly $2.23 million more expensive.

That still leaves 20 defencemen who cost more than Brodie who don’t score as much as he does, 16 of whom are older than him, ranging from a couple of months to 10 years. And if Brodie ever does commit to shooting the puck much more often, he’s likely to start scoring much more, too. And again, remember: his cap hit is much less than all of them.

Usage

Now, here’s a look at how all 51 defencemen have been utilized throughout their careers, extending from 2007-16, via Corsica. The x-axis is relative zone start ratio; players further to the left started more often in the defensive zone relative to their teams. The y-axis is quality of competition; players higher up on the list have played against tougher opponents. The colour of each player’s bubble corresponds to their relative corsi; the bluer it is, the greater his corsi was relative to his team; the redder it is, the worse. The size of each bubble corresponds to how much ice time he has received.

Click on the image for a full-sized version.

Brodie is actually pretty easy to spot: he’s one of the defensive zone standouts with one of the higher positive corsi rels. (Look for an isolated deep-ish blue circle on the left side.) Only eight defencemen have had rougher zone starts than he has, and he has a higher CF%rel than all of them.

Hell, I’ll do you one better than that. He has the highest CF%rel out of everyone. He clocks in at +4.48%. The next best guy is Karlsson at +4.33%, and he gets significantly more offensive zone starts. To be fair, this does take into account the fact that a lot of Brodie’s teammates have been less-than-awesome, which helps boost his relative ranking – but what is hockey if not a team game? Brodie has been more valuable to his team than most.

This is a plot of 50 defencemen – all of whom have higher cap hits than Brodie – and Brodie himself.

Brodie blows just about everyone else out of the water in regards to possession stats. He’s one of the youngest defencemen in this group. He isn’t in the top 50% when it comes to offence, but he’s far from being the bottom of the barrel.

Brodie will stay at a cap hit of just $4.65 million for the next four seasons. He is, very possibly, the best value contract in the league, bar none.

  • Baalzamon

    Brodie is underrated because most people are operating under the misconception that he’s an offensive defenseman. So he only gets evaluated based on his offensive production, which is literally the thing he’s worst at.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I predict that the 2018-2019 season will see the Flames having one of the best defences in the league (it wasn’t true last year although some said it – it couldn’t be with Russell, Wideman and Engelland getting regular minutes)

    In 2018-2019, Gio will still be just barely on the right side of a decline, Brodie will be in the middle of his prime years and Dougie will be just entering his prime, plus some of our stud prospects will be ready by then, think:

    Gio/Brodie

    Kylington/Hamilton

    The best of one of Jokipaaka, Kulak, Wotherspoon or Hickey paired with Andersson

  • Tangentially related…Logan Couture speaking about playing against Giordano on the Players Tribune:

    “Fun fact: Giordano knocked the exact same tooth out of my mouth in back-to-back seasons. Both times were in San Jose off a face-off in the same circle. Both times, the refs didn’t even call a penalty. The second time, I went up to Gio at the end of the period and said, “Man, you got me again. Same toof.”

    I think he actually felt bad.

    I don’t want to say he plays recklessly, but he plays right on the edge. He really stands his ground in the defensive end, and he’ll make you pay if you don’t have your head up.

    Offensively, he’s excellent at moving the puck on the power play and finding soft spots in defensive coverage. He has the same type of shot as Burnzie, where he pulls the puck in close and changes the angle to get his shot through really tight spaces. When you’re watching on TV, it seems like there’s tons of space to shoot from the point, but at ice level, there’s usually only a tiny window to shoot through.

    Look at this shot to see what I mean. It almost looks like he bends the puck through multiple screens.

    The thing that separates Giordano is how active he is in jumping into the play — he almost becomes a fourth forward at times. You’ll see him all the way down behind the net and in the blue paint, but if Calgary turns the puck over, he has the speed to recover.

    Giordano is an all-around player — solid in every part of his game. I should’ve sent him a dental bill, though.”

    Source

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Reading that makes me like Couture just a little bit.

      I know there’s been a lot fans clamouring to split Brodie an Giordano, but I’m not one of them. It would help the lefty/right mix pushing Hamilton with Giordano, but I’d rather did Hamilton a better partner of the 2nd pairing, and leave a beautiful defense pairing as is.

      Gulutzan leave this duo alone!

  • Joe Flames

    Timing is everything. Management had the foresight to get him on a long term deal, which is pretty much every team’s strategy with young players now. But Brodie’s deal happened fairly early in his career, and just before the market really started to go crazy. Plus, he wasn’t a high draft pick, so the negotiations started from a lower level than for a guy like Hamilton.

    Just like a good real estate deal, sometimes you are buying at just the right time and you hit a home run. These are the kinds of deals you need to have to build a contender and stay a contender.

  • freethe flames

    Brodie’s ability to skate is his greatest asset. He still makes an occasional bone headed decision but these are getting fewer and fewer each year. It has been mentioned that the sky is the limit for him but he goes under the radar around the league; maybe because many see him benefiting from his Gio time. Personally I think all 3 of our top defenders could be anchors on three distinct and quality pairings and I would love to see GG experiment with this for most of the preseason. Brodie’s ability to excel on the R side provides GG with the flexibility to do so. With our current group of defenders I would love to see these combinations: Dougie/Spoon, Andersen/Gio, TJ/Kulak, Wides/Culkin, and Engs/Kylington to see what the young guys have. JJ(you can call him Kevin if you want) will be at the WC and Nakdaddy is not signed and will be at the world cup as well. I would use the last couple of exhibition games to get the timing back with the partners.