If there’s one established Calgary Flames player that fans are a bit iffy on after this season, it’s TJ Brodie. From an underlying numbers standpoint he had perhaps the best season of his career, but suddenly it seems like he may be the easiest regular to replace.
2018-19 season summary
For the second consecutive season, Brodie spent almost the entire time playing top pairing minutes alongside Mark Giordano. But by the end of the season, cracks seemed to appear in the foundation – at least in terms of how he was used.
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Brodie didn’t set career highs this season, but approached a few. Nine goals was the second-most he ever had, as was 22 five-on-five points, while 34 points was pretty much in the general range of production he’s established for himself. He played first pairing at even strength and was a fixture on the second power play unit, though he never really got much penalty killing time.
His deployments changed a bit down the stretch in two ways, though:
- Brodie was occasionally dropped to the left side of the third pairing to play with Dalton Prout, with Rasmus Andersson playing with Giordano on the top pairing.
- Andersson joined Brodie on the second power play unit.
Those observers with long memories will vividly recall Brodie’s occasional puck-handling gaffes or defensive bobbles, particularly late in the second. Despite these rough spots, though, he had a strong statistical season relative to the rest of the team – and he ended up with the best Corsi For percentage of his entire career.
He was consistently top four in every shot generation rate – shot attempts, shots, scoring chances and high danger chances, and top three in shot suppression rates. Some of that is definitely because he plays with Giordano – who had a monster season – but Brodie definitely performed consistently well.
Compared to last season
Brodie played roughly the same amount as he did in 2017-18, was deployed in roughly the same way and played with roughly the same teammates. His offensive numbers were up, as were most of the team’s, but his game took off in a more general sense, too.
Pretty much across the board, Brodie saw his shot generation rates make an uptick from the season prior while his shot suppression numbers similarly improved. He was a little bit better almost across the board and, combined with Giordano’s impressive season in all areas, it helped elevate Brodie even further.
What about next season?
Despite the uptick of his underlying numbers, Brodie is what he is at this point. He’s a smooth-skating, puck-moving defender. He’s prone to occasional lapses and bobbles, and while he can be criticized for his lack of offensive killer instinct compared to some other blueliners on the team he always manages to get roughly the same amount of points, shots, scoring chances, and so on. Barring a significant injury, he can probably be counted on for roughly the same type of performance in 2019-20.
It’s precisely this reliability that makes him such an attractive trade commodity. Andersson is 22 and is going to get better, while Brodie is what he is at this point. The Flames would know precisely what they’re giving up, while their potential trade partner would know essentially what type of player they would be getting.
If Brodie’s back with the Flames, he’ll probably be playing top pairing minutes with Giordano once again. But considering that he’s entering the last year of his contract, that there’s both a looming expansion draft in two years and there’s an obvious internal candidate for his spot, the stars are aligning for him to potentially be somewhere else when the puck drops in October.