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FlamesNation player evaluation: TJ Brodie

TJ Brodie has been an excellent player for the Flames for many seasons. Mark Giordano’s rise to a top pairing defenceman kicked off alongside him. The past two seasons, though – since they were separated, since Brodie began playing the left side of the ice instead of the right, since Glen Gulutzan took over – he’s fallen from grace.

Can a new coach or an old approach help him get back to where he was before?

2017-18 season summary

Brodie was, oddly, treated as a top pairing defender despite not being on the top pairing. He averaged the second most ice time per game. Though he finished third in Flames defencemen powerplay ice time, he spent the first half of the season on the top unit. He was 11th on the team for total shots, a poor 3.4 shooting percentage (well below his career average of 5.8%) not helping matters.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
73 4 28 32 23:41 50.75 -3.92 50.00 .991

His most notable moment came in the second game of the season, when Brodie scored twice and added on two assists for the second four-point game of his career. He scored the Flames’ first goal of the season, but was only able to add on another three in the ensuing 71 games. Brodie’s season ended prematurely when a Ryan Reaves hit concussed him; it came about the time the Flames weren’t mathematically eliminated, but it was becoming inevitable.

Eleven of Brodie’s 32 points came on the man advantage, so it’s not as though he was relying on his unjustified powerplay time to score points – but it certainly helped him.

Brodie played primarily with Travis Hamonic. The two shared 1062:40 5v5 minutes together, posting a 51.32% 5v5 CF. The bad news for Brodie: away from Hamonic, he was a 49.38% 5v5 CF. Hamonic, away from Brodie, was at 52.43%. Something that may have played a factor in that, though, is that whenever Brodie wasn’t playing with Hamonic, he was playing alongside Michael Stone. After spending years as Giordano’s partner, the two only played 5:10 5v5 minutes together all season.

On the forward side of things, Brodie most often played with Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Michael Frolik, Sean Monahan, and Micheal Ferland: primarily top six guys, but with a slant towards the shutdown line, as opposed to the high scoring one. His 50.00% offensive zone starts had more to do with how often the Flames started in the offensive zone than anything else: Brodie and Hamonic were tasked with the worst offensive zone starts among all Flames defencemen.

Compared to last season

Brodie shot the puck a lot more this past season than he typically does. And no, the extra powerplay time likely didn’t have anything to do with it: of the 118 shots on net Brodie took in 2017-18 (second most of his career), only 18 came on the man advantage.

Brodie only shot the puck 78 times in 2016-17, and 79 times in 2015-16. The difference? He shot at 7.7% and 7.6% in those seasons, resulting in six goals. If he’d been able to shoot at that same rate in 2017-18, he would have scored nine goals instead of just four; nine would have been the second most in his career.

Even with the lacklustre shooting percentage, Brodie’s offensive numbers didn’t dip too much: from 36 points in 2016-17 to 32 this past season. When he played top pairing with Giordano, however, he was able to score 40+ points easily.

All in all, though, Brodie appears to have suffered under Gulutzan. Being removed – deservingly so, Dougie Hamilton is just a better player – from Giordano’s right probably played a part in that, but doesn’t exclusively explain how Brodie went from a consistently positive asset for the Flames to someone putting up relative negative numbers. He had been on a bit of a decline – in the 2013-14 season his (and Giordano’s) relative numbers were extremely high because everyone else was so bad – but this past season was unprecedented in how terrible it was. It was easily the worst year of Brodie’s career since he played three games in 2010-11 as a first-year pro and immediately proved he wasn’t ready.

What about next season?

Brodie may very well be the biggest question mark for the Flames next season – that is, assuming he’s still on the Flames. With prospects starting to push for jobs and Brodie’s past pedigree, he may find himself on the outs as the Flames look to upgrade their forwards and make room for the kids.

It might be worth seeing if Brodie can rebound next season, however. He’s performed below his standards the past two years, and maybe that was because he was separated from Giordano, maybe it was because he had to play the left side instead of his preferred right, or maybe it was because he just couldn’t make things work under Gulutzan. If Peters can get Brodie back to the level he played at just three seasons ago, then the Flames’ defence really could be as enviable as analysts initially predicted it to be.

And Brodie may have more offence in him. Like the Flames, he suffered from a below average shooting percentage. If he’s able to keep his shot rates up – as he did in 2014-15 – and gets some better luck, then the Flames could have a formidable top three defence in scoring.

However, if Brodie can’t regain his form, then he’ll look increasingly like a burden: less so in the contract department, and more so on the ice, because there were way too many times in 2017-18 he was simply an unmitigated disaster. It was out of character, and you hope the season was a blip, not a sign of things to come.


#5 – Mark Giordano

  • buts

    Struggled for the last 2 years…..OR struggled under GG!, who coached for that same time period. TJ played under other coach’s in this organization and didn’t struggle…..it’s coincidence.. GG didn’t know how to use him, plain and simple, TJ is a right side defensemen who’s smart and who can skate like the wind. Believe it or not some defensemen just see the ice better, can angle better on there off side. Orr played on right D for many years.

    • redhot1

      But then where do you put Hamonic? I do think Kulak brodie would be a good pair, maybe Andersson or Hamonic play their offside on the third pair? Stone I think has to go this summer.

  • deantheraven

    GG’s poor deployment choices can’t excuse Brodie’s brain sharts throughout the year. We’ve got too many prospects that look like replacements for what Brodie was supposed to bring.
    Let another team put him on the right side and see if he rebounds. Trade him while he still has some perceived value. Both he and Stone should go for an upgrade at forward and/or picks.

    • idbr

      I watched TJ closely for quite a few games this past year due to all the criticism he had been receiving and I didn’t find him all that bad in the d-zone. Sure there were a few glaring mistakes but there were some great plays defensively too. I think the negative statements about his play are overrated. I believe with better deployment he’d be right back up there as one of the top d-men. The flames really fell after he was out of the lineup at the end of the year. Obviously MT was a factor as well but I believe losing TJ did have an impact on the flames. I’ll be sad to see him go if he is traded and wish him the best. I think he’ll be great wherever he plays next year.

  • rusty_shakleforde

    On the one hand, its been two years, and whether it’s GG or Brodie or both, that’s a long time for a slide. There’s no knowing if he can rebound from two years of this, and it seems especially improbable that he would be able to just switch to his dominant side, like Peters better etc, and go straightaway back to his top form. That seems like magical thinking.

    On the other hand, it would reaaaaly suck if we traded him and he became this elite, puckmoving dman in the league. Especially considering he can skate, and make creative plays (or has the potential to)–which, making this decision even more difficult, is essentially the mould of the new sought after type of dman.

    IF we keep Brodie, I would love to see him on his right side with one of the new kids. Please someone correct me if I’m wrong, but Valamaki plays on the left side and Andersson the right? If we slot Brodie in with Valamaki, we run the risk of not enough stable defensive prowess, but I think it would give Brodie a bit of a reboot–a defibrillator to his hockey playing, if you will.

    Gio-Dougie
    Kulak-Hamonic
    Valamaki-Brodie

    This has its issues. Namely no Andersson, and namely TJ on the third pairing.

    I think Stone should definitely go, and it also looks like there is no room for Brodie. Too many solid dmen, and I think Kulak deserves to be in the core.

  • calgaryfan

    I don’t think the coach can be blamed for Brodie’s poor decisions on the ice. Giordano probably covered up his mistakes more than Hamonic did. If the Flames can get a good return he should be moved as there are players coming to take his place. (Valimaki or Kylington)

  • WillyWonka

    Brodie is a very good hockey player and will rebound. The defensive structure that Guluzton lacked is exactly the difference between Gully and Peters. Brodie will be fine. The whole defensive system was off last year, as you saw the guys running around a lot. Peters structure will make the team that much better.

  • Burnward

    TJ Brodie was in Olympic conversation, outside of course but he was there, as a RD.

    Gulutzan comes in and plants him to LD. He struggles.

    A competent eye would see that probably was due to him turning and wheeling on his forehand. He’s comfortable there. Been doing it all his life.

    Instead we get a “I know best” gameplan from GG that hampers his natural instincts and makes him uncomfortable every time he comes to the rink.

    Put him in the correct position to succeed and he will.

    • calgaryfan

      most players can play either side especially if they can skate like Brodie, I don’t think he was ever thought of as a serious candidate for the Olympic team. Check out any Olympic team roster and see who he could replace. No one me thinks.

  • freethe flames

    I have to admit that I am generally a TJ fan but I am also a believer that it is time to move on from him both for the Flames and for him. If we can use a trade of TJ to add a top 6 forward then I would be happy. If we move TJ I also believe we will be adding another veteran D via either trade or FA.

  • Korcan

    It looks to me like Brodie has become the odd man out and thus will be moved this summer.

    To move him back to his preferred right side, he would have to supplant Hamilton, Hamonic, or Andersson. The first two aren’t moving, so that means Andersson. I dont see the flames starting Rasmus on his weak side when they are trying to develop him into a top 4 d-man. And I’m not sure Brodie would be thrilled about playing bottom pairing. Also, I don’t think brass will see Brodie as the mentoring type, which he would have to be on the bottom pairing because he will more than likely be partnered with a young, inexperienced d-man. If anything, Brodie’s freewheeling style of play needs a veteran partner who can read and react to what he is doing.

    Right now, Brodie is internally replaceable on defense, thus making him an expendable d-man who still holds decent value on the trade market, which can hopefully be parlayed into a significant upgrade at center (I.e. R. O’Rielly) or at right wing. If brass hold onto him and he has another bad season, his trade value will go through the floor. Conclusion: if they are going to trade him it must be now.

  • Jobu

    Lets not forget that he also had some serious family stuff to deal with outside of the rink. I dont care who you are, these things can weigh heavy on a persons psyche.

  • freethe flames

    So what is a 27 year old LHD who can play either side who has averaged 77 GP 6 G 30A= 36pts; plays over 20+ minutes a game even strength can play on the PP and PK worth on the trade market?(over the last 5 years) Can you get a fair market price for him? So is 36 point a year D worth a 50+ forward?

  • freethe flames

    When discussing trades and signing FA we usually go bug game hunting, My question for FN are there any forwards out there that have yet to break out that you think might be on the verge of breaking out if given an opportunity? (ie who would have thought that William Karlson of the VGK was going to score 40+) So is there anyone out there that you think might break out given a chance to play in our top 2 offensive lines might be that guy. I look at PP line up and their salary cap issues; even if the cap goes to the high end at $80m I wonder if they can sign all their RFA’s. This would be a great article for the writers to do; whose on the cusp of breaking out.

    • cjc

      Nobody could predict Karlsson breaking out like he did, but he was paired up with 2 very good players for most of the season (Smith and Marchessault). He also shot nearly 24%. Not saying he isn’t good, but the context is important.

      I think we have an intriguing guy in Shore. I don’t think he will hit Karlsson levels, but I think there is more there than what we have seen. He averaged over a point per game in the AHL as a 22 year old, and he has put up third line scoring numbers with fourth line minutes/partners. His underlying possession numbers are good too. He’s a right shot, so it might be interesting to run him out as a RW that can help boost that 3rd line. I can see him posting 30-40 pts if he’s given the opportunity.

    • cjc

      As for signing all the RFAs:

      Shore: <1 million
      Jankowski: <2 million
      Hathaway: <1 million
      Kulak: <1 million
      Gillies/Rittich: <1 million
      Shinkaruk/Klimchuk/Poirier: league minimum
      Smith/Carroll: Not re-signed.

      All together: Probably less than 8 million. Projected cap space: 12.4 million

  • herringchoker

    Listen guys……lets take a sec and use some common sense. Brodie was with Gio and they were considered a top pair in the league only 2 short years ago. GG comes in and moves him to the opposite side and he struggles. How can we not see that this is not a coincidence. Some players…..myself included played best on there off wing. How you turn, how you see and read the play is different. How you shoot is very different. This all messes with your confidence. Then mental mistakes follow. I like Brodie. I like Hamilton too. I’d prefer to trade Stone and find our D and our RW internally. That my friends ain’t going to happen. Our GM needs to find a spark for our offense. Not just for goals but, so we can actually move our lineup around and get others guys scoring. If the new RW and Hamilton are a wash for points but, another forward or two takes a step…..it’s a win. Its going to take a give to get.

  • Bawcos

    I severely doubt Brodie’s going anywhere. The coaching change may or may not elevate his game, but this mgmt. has seemingly sided with an insurance policy. If nothing else, that’s what Brodie is. Trading Stone seems immanent (and should happen to make room for Andersson) but Brodie insures everything else. Kulak/ Valimaki not ready for top 4 = Brodie. Hamonik/ Giordano/ Hamilton get injured = Brodie. f at some point Gio falls off a cliff to father age = Brodie. It took me some years to fall in love with TJ but only 18 months to fall out of love. That given, he’s still the best insurance policy this team has and mgmt. seems to be on the side of caution