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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: Troy Brouwer

Troy Brouwer’s name doesn’t have the same ring to it as it once did. For the second straight season, he was one of the go-to whipping boys for the Flames, but, in a reduced bottom six role, actually did a decent job for the Flames this year. He might not be the power forward he once was, but he’s definitely not as terrible as some make him seem.

2017-18 season summary

Let’s be honest: after what was a truly awful 2016-17 campaign, the bar for Brouwer started out as low as it could go. The only thing that one could really hope for was that Brouwer would be at the least a serviceable fourth line winger who didn’t act as a boat anchor to Johnny Gaudreau or Mikael Backlund. Fortunately, I guess, he was exactly that this year: a serviceable fourth line winger. It might not be the player Brad Treliving intended on signing back in 2015 and definitely not one that you’d like to see earn $4.5M, but he was, in a word, decent this season.

Brouwer actually finished with 50.8% CF at even strength, good for 16th on the team out of those who played at least 50 games. He was mostly deployed in the defensive zone, 41.6% OZS, and played a primarily shut down role for Glen Gulutzan. Matt Stajan was the only regular skater who started a higher percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone. He was fifth on the team with 125 hits and second among forwards with 42 blocked shots.

Games played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% rel OZS% PDO
76 6 16 22 13:56 50.80 -3.70 41.60 0.985

One of the plays Brouwer is probably most remembered for this season was in overtime of the Jan. 23 game against the Buffalo Sabres. Brouwer lost a key draw to Ryan O’Reilly which ultimately led to a Jack Eichel game-winning goal. The Flames’ loss came in the middle of a six-game losing skid. However, among all right-shooting regular Flames players this season, Brouwer had the highest faceoff percentage, albeit at 46.5%. Gulutzan relied on him to take a defensive draw and it’s not Brouwer’s fault he was the best option available at the time. He was a true soldier for the Flames this year and did whatever was asked of him.

That’s not to say he had a magical year. Despite playing the seventh most powerplay minutes among forwards this year, Brouwer was almost a non-factor offensively; it took him until December to score his first goal, and it came in a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The most puzzling thing about Brouwer’s season was his usage. While he was a decent bottom sixer and definitely didn’t belong any higher in the lineup, he seemed to always be on the first powerplay unit on the half wall or in front of the net. It was a bit bizarre seeing a depth winger play in such an important offensive role and remain there even though he did almost nothing with it. It took way too long for Dougie Hamilton to replace Brouwer on the powerplay and that swap, to nobody’s surprise, resulted in a resurgence (of sorts) for the man advantage.

It’s hard to place blame on Brouwer for any of this though; if your coach tells you to hop out for the powerplay, you don’t reject that opportunity. Brouwer’s game has changed from power forward to shutdown depth winger and that’s okay, as long as he’s used in the right way.

Compared to last season

Usage is the one area that will always be the barometer by which Brouwer’s play is evaluated. Last season, he averaged 16:13 TOI per game, which was simply too much. Brouwer was just not good enough to play that much on a nightly basis and it led to him struggling to perform at even a decent level for the Flames. With the coaching staff intact, the hope was that lessons learned from last season would allow Brouwer to be put in a better position to succeed and help the team.

This year, his ice time was reduced by almost 2.5 minutes (around 15%) and it yielded positive results. But it was more than just playing fewer minutes a night. He also started fewer shifts in the offensive zone and played over 40 more minutes on the penalty kill. Last season’s 52.3% OZS was good for sixth among skaters with more than five games played and Brouwer really did perform better in a defensive role in comparison to the primarily offensive role he played last year. His CF% even improved from 44.5% to 50.8%. Last season, Brouwer was nothing short of a liability on the roster but this year, he really did redeem himself.

What about next season?

We can only hope that we get more of the same from Brouwer next season. It’s unrealistic to expect him to put in 20 goals for the Flames or even to be effective in front of the net on the powerplay, but if he remains on the team next season, the best case scenario is that he continues to be a reliable defensive depth player who can kill penalties and be that good locker room guy we’ve come to assume he is.

That being said, there is no guarantee he’ll be back next year. It’s unlikely and you probably shouldn’t put money on this scenario, but this offseason marks the first where it could make financial sense to buy out Brouwer’s contract. He would free up $3M in cap space for the Flames and for what he provides, Treliving could probably find a replacement who would cost much less than that.

The most likely scenario is that Brouwer returns as the Flames’ fourth line right winger. He’ll probably wear the “A” again and we should all cheer for him next season.


#5 – Mark Giordano #7 – TJ Brodie
#8 – Chris Stewart #10 – Kris Versteeg
#11 – Mikael Backlund #13 – Johnny Gaudreau
#15 – Tanner Glass #18 – Matt Stajan
#19 – Matthew Tkachuk #20 – Curtis Lazar
#21 – Garnet Hathaway #23 – Sean Monahan
#24 – Travis Hamonic #25 – Nick Shore
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#33 – David Rittich

 



  • JMK

    Off topic, but was looking at Keith Tkachuk’s progression after he was drafted.
    D+1: Keith – 1.11ppg in NCAA – Matt – 0.63ppg in NHL
    D+2: Keith – 0.47ppg in NHL – Matt – 0.72ppg in NHL
    D+3: Keith – 0.61ppg in NHL – Matt – TBD
    D+4: Keith – 0.96ppg in NHL – Matt – TBD

    Keith’s first season in NHL was brief (17 games), but Matty looks ahead of his Dad so far. Keith remained around the ppg mark until he retired. As much as I liked the 3M line, I can’t wait to see Matty on an offensive line to see if he can match his Dad’s totals or better.

  • Off the wall

    I seriously don’t understand the rationale that Brouwer was good on the PK.
    He wasn’t.

    Jankowski, Bennett, Hathaway and Lazar all had better numbers, and are much faster than Brouwer.

    If he is on the team next season, he shouldn’t be getting any other duties but 4th line minutes.
    No PP, no PK duties.

    He was better last season, however that’s a horrible benchmark to compare to..

    • rusty_shakleforde

      THANK YOU!

      He was so bad on the PK. Too many times this season I’ve been caught shouting at my TV because he is too slow to catch up to his man. He’s out of position, and looks lost. And why did GG split up Backs and Frolik? Brower. Ughhh. Again, not his fault, but jebus he should never be on the PK ever again.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    Flames should buy him out no question, that 3 mill can be better spent on fixing the rest of the roster

    We just came out from paying a 4th line centre 3.5 million and now we are paying a guy who is only a 4th line winger 4.5 million……ugh that is why the Flames are a mess, if i was on this team and saw a guy who didn’t score his first goal till December get regular 1st powerplay time, why would i want to try

  • buts

    An average 4th liner at best and not worth more than league minimum. It’s not his fault GG played him waaay to much and it’s not his fault that BT is paying him this stupid amount of money per year. He’s an anchor to the team.

    • oilcanboyd

      An average 4th liner…then good on him and Peters please keep him planted on the 4th line, no pp, pk time or moving up even to the 3rd line. I could live with that and forget about his salary for being a 4th line winger…

  • Korcan

    “this offseason marks the first where it could make financial sense to buy out Brouwer’s contract. He would free up $3M in cap space for the Flames and for what he provides, Treliving could probably find a replacement who would cost much less than that.” Addition by subtraction. This is the one player on Calgary’s roster who could actually improve the team by not being on it — not because he is that bad, but simply because he is that much overpaid and the team could actually improve by spending those $3M elsewhere. It’s ironic, and unfortunate for Brouwer, that the big payday every player hopes for could be the very thing that cuts his career short.

  • Cheeky

    Can’t really tell me he’s a decent 4th liner, he was brought in to be a top 9 player (and paid accordingly). He is a waste of a spot, too slow, too soft (for what he is supposed to be and his size), too much of a liability. He may be a nice guy or a great locker room guy but this is hockey and we need hockey players (young and fast and much cheaper). Only a miracle can free us of Brouwer – work your magic Brad….

  • FL?MES

    I would rather see him bought out or traded for a jelly doughnut but if that doesn’t happen he could be an extra forward to make buying him out less painful next season.

    • The GREAT WW

      BTF: Now that your favourite coach has joined your favourite team; there is really no reason for you to return to FN…..

      Have fun with your buddies on ON!!!!!

      WW

  • Fan the Flames

    He has been given every opportunity to play on all lines and he makes everyone he plays with worse . I think he needs to be the 13th forward and a healthy scratch most nights or bury him in the minors but with his contract I am not sure that is possible . We know he can’t be traded and the buyout means we have to feel the pain for four more years yuk.

  • freethe flames

    If you could guarantee me that he would be the 13th forward(splitting 4th line RW with Lazar) and never get any PP time and that he would still get 22 points in the games he plays then maybe I could stomach it; but y no one can. He needs to be bought out or buried in KC. I wouldn’t even want him in Stockton.

  • freethe flames

    Listening to the conversation on the fan talking about the NYR Chris Jonhson saying that they are likely in the hunt for Kovy and that he want to win. Secondly they are likely to be in the hunt with all their draft for someone like Karlsson. Should be an interesting off season.

    • Dougiefred

      Anyone who thinks Brower could be traded is clueless. Brower is being paid 4.5 million , lets assume he is sent to the AHL or is benched a replacement will cost 1 million (easy figuring) thats makes a Brower replacement cost 5.5 million. I seriously doubt this magical replacement 4th liner will provide more to the team than Brower.
      If the GM did the above and I owned the team, I would find it annoying, good money after bad.
      Believe a buyout would mean installments totaling 7.5 to 8 million of the 9 mil owed. Probably to much at this point but next year we can hope!

      • freethe flames

        $6m over 4 years I believe. $3m savings each of the next two years and then a $1.5m cap hit each of the following two years. Sending him down saves @1m a year on the cap but still costs the same cost to the club.

        • Dougiefred

          Cap Friendly has Brower buyout as a cost of 1.5 million over 4 years, with a cap hit of 1.5 million each of the four years. A dollar savings of 3 million.
          Not as daunting as I thought.

          • BendingCorners

            I don’t think cap space will be an issue for the next two years or so. More important is whether BT is able to improve the team. Would a championship caliber team have four regular RW and a spare that would all be better than Brouwer, either generally or in specific roles? If so, waiving or buying out Brouwer makes room on the roster for those players. If not, then he is worth keeping.
            I vote to get rid of him but only BT and BP have votes that matter.

  • Dougiefred

    I am sure BT and BP would be as happy to be rid of Brower as would everyone on this site. The fact he is still on the team tells me it’s not a simple as saying “hit the road Jack” in this case Troy.

    • FL?MES

      Tre has backed himself into a corner. The team cannot hit the reset button now and has to go for it. They have to figure out how to use Brouwer so that he is not a detriment or cut him loose. I can’t wait to see what BP and BT do because their next moves will say a lot.

  • SeanCharles

    Since Tre got here there have been 3 UFA signings I instantly hated and figured the team would regret for years. I was wrong about one of them (Engelland) but the other 2 – Brouwer and Raymond – went as expected.

    Considering we need to upgrade our forward group as well as inject some speed and youth I really don’t see where he fits in.

    Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Backlund, Ferland, Bennett, Jankowski, Frolik, Shore, Lazar, Hathaway are all likely to come back – 11 spots. We also need to add a higher end guy (preferably RHed) as well I expect at least one of Dube, Mangiapane or Foo will make the team out of camp.

    Unless Brouwer is the 13th forward I don’t know where he fits in.

    • freethe flames

      If these are our top 11 forwards at the start of training cap then we will be watching other teams when the playoffs begin. We don’t need both Lazar and Hathaway on our opening day line up they are both 4th liners and do practically the same thing as Brouwer. If BT does not upgrade the forward ranks significantly then the off season is a failure.

      • SeanCharles

        I agree which is why I said we need to add a high end guy and give a young talent like Dube, Foo or Mangiapane a shot. Both of which would slot ahead of guys like Hathaway and Lazar.

        For example:

        Gaudreau-Monahan-Newb

        Ferland-Backlund-Frolik

        Bennett-Jankowski-Tkachuk

        Dube-Shore-Lazar

        Hathaway/?

        Maybe even a couple prospects make it and our bottom end is:

        Dube-Shore-Foo

        Lazar/Hathaway

        My point stands that younger guys can fill those roles instead of Brouwer as I think all 3 of those FW prospects are really close if not already ready for NHL duties.

  • cjc

    The view that Brouwer had a lot of PP usage doesn’t match up with TOI stats. He finished 7th among forwards in total PP TOI, and 9th in average PP TOI. Even earlier in the season he wasn’t that high on the list. Most of his time came after Versteeg was injured. At that point he was sadly the best right shot forward option they had. While giving him any significant PP time was questionable, I think the extent of the Brouwer-Play was overblown. Not having Dougie on the first unit to start the season was a more egregious sin.

    • freethe flames

      The fact that Brouwer played ahead of Ferland and Frolik on the pp was an egregious sin as well.

      I sometimes wonder what our best line up on the power would look like and frequently think it would be Johnny chasing the puck on the left side, Ferland doing the same on the right side, Tkachuk as the net presence, Monny is slot and Dougie on the point. This of course could change if we upgrade upfront. Second unit 2 point men Gio and Ras, Janko in the slot with Bennett and Backs on the wings chasing the corners down and if Bennett struggles play Frolik there.

      • rusty_shakleforde

        Left handed shot Ferland on the right side for the one timer? If we’re gunna play the 1-3-1 style, I don’t see why we didn’t play it this way. Monahan is our Schieffle, Ferland our Kucherov (kind of) on the pp. That’s why the Browerplay was so annoying.

  • Chucky

    It is likely that two of Foo, Gawdin and Dube will earn a spot. There also might be a need to accommodate Mangiapanie.
    If they enter the season with Gaudreau, Monahan, Ferland, Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolic, Jankowski and Bennett as guaranteed in the lineup and Shore, Hathaway and Lazar on the bubble, how do they fit Brouwer into the lineup?
    The problem for Brouwer is that all of the 15 guys currently available are significantly faster and that is at a premium in the current NHL.
    Time for Treliving to either deal him for a low pick (does it go to a 10th round) or buyout. Sometimes mistakes have to be acknowledged and corrected.

    • freethe flames

      Personally I think Mangiapane is ahead of the three you mentioned. Although he did not pick up any points in his audition I was more impressed with his overall game than Foo’s, at this point I have not seen enough of either Dube or Gawdin to know if they are NHL ready.

      A question for FN; does anyone read the Athlectic? I just caught a head line were our own Kent Wilson commented that Bennett will never be a top 6 forward. Anyone read it and wants to share what he had to say?

  • redwhiteblack

    This article is to generous to Brouwer. He gets $18,000,000.00. 4th line or no line that’s just wrong. Cut him loose and get 3 mil back in cap space AND the prospect of a much better player. It is painful to watch him. His underlying numbers and offensive numbers are going to get worse.

  • Bob's Hockey Stick

    Brouwer needs to go. I’m done watching him play gutless uninspired hockey and the fact he has a letter on the front of his jersey, while Captain Swedan ( Backs) has none. Is outright criminal.

    I’ve yet to see Brouwer ever step up for a teammate after opposition is taking liberties. Instead does the post game .”we have to play through it and suck it up” . Dude doesn’t fight, is a liability on the ice. A total waste of a roster spot. Dude’s also 4 million a season over paid for what he brings. We have plugs on the farm that would be an upgrade. Heck a bag of frozen pucks sitting on the bench provides greater “leadership” then Brouwer.

    Even my beer league doesn’t want him. Please buy this guy out and move on. Flames need to make some roster changes , removing Brouwer is the first step. Anyone remember when the Flames were a fast edgey fun team ? I want that team back please, not the horror show we witnessed and suffered through as fans for the last two seasons. …

    Frustrated Flames Fan.

    • freethe flames

      Twice in 2 years is how many times I’ve seen him show on ice leadership. Twice that’s it. This is a guy who BT believed would help the leadership of this team. Heaven help us if this is leadership.