A trade involving TJ Brodie seemed a formality when the Flames kicked off their offseason. But, almost four full months into Calgary’s summer, Brodie remains a member of the team and the likelihood of dealing him seems much less as August begins. In fact, with training camp just over a month away, Brodie’s role feels a whole lot more important now than it did when things wrapped up in April.
The right side
With Michael Stone’s buyout made official late last week, the Flames are left with just two natural right shot defenders with NHL experience: Travis Hamonic and Rasmus Andersson. Even though he actually shoots left, we’ll lump Brodie into the right side conversation, too; as we know, he’s somewhat of an anomaly preferring to play on the off side. That leaves Calgary with a blueline depth chart looking something like below.
|Left D||Right D|
|Mark Giordano||Travis Hamonic|
|Noah Hanifin||TJ Brodie|
|Juuso Valimaki||Rasmus Andersson|
Head coach Bill Peters is on the record with his preference for a left and right shot on each pair, which technically won’t be possible with the current roster. However, Peters is also fine playing Brodie on the right, which gives him three pairings that fit the bill. But what if someone gets injured?
With Stone no longer in the fold, the Flames have a little less of a cushion on the right side. Say what you want about Stone’s contract, but he was still an NHL defender and gave the team nice flexibility. The buyout had to happen, but it definitely puts more pressure on the remaining players on that side. All of a sudden, Brodie’s ability to eat big minutes and play up and down the depth chart becomes far more important.
Mark Giordano-Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin-Travis Hamonic
Juuso Valimaki-TJ Brodie
The alignment above is how most believe Calgary will start the season on the back, injuries not withstanding. Considering Hamonic has never played more than 74 games in a season, though, there’s a solid chance Brodie will have to play an elevated role if indeed he starts on the third pair.
Furthermore, as high as I am on Andersson, he has very limited experience playing top pairing minutes. As much as I think that’s where he’ll be for the bulk of his career, a few growing pains this year wouldn’t be unheard of. If that’s the case, Peters always has the ability to move Brodie back up with Giordano.
Brodie has had his struggles over the last three seasons, but as frustrated as he might make you, he still belongs in the NHL. At this stage, I don’t think Brodie is best used on the top pair, but he provides the Flames with versatility. Brodie can still log big minutes and can play up and down the lineup; if he’s in Calgary to start the season, he’ll present the team with options.
Is a trade still possible?
Of course it is. With Matthew Tkachuk unsigned, the Flames are still actively trying to move out money. We already know Brodie was close to being part of a Nazem Kadri deal earlier this summer, so if Calgary were to move him between now and October, it won’t be a stunner. From a competitive standpoint, though, it’s no longer as attractive a proposition.
Right now, the best case if they were to trade Brodie would see the Flames get a cheaper right shot in return. I question how realistic that is, but if Calgary could bring in a d-man with NHL experience to play the right while still saving money, I think they’d jump at the chance.
A more realistic scenario could see the Flames move Brodie for a more nominal return (a mid-round draft pick, perhaps) while eating part of his salary. Of course, this would leave Calgary in a spot where they’d have to use two left shots on a third pair, which isn’t ideal. As a colleague of mine passed along, though, it’s better than not signing Tkachuk.
At this stage, I believe the chances the Flames move Brodie are significantly lower than they were in April, May, or June. As such, there’s a good chance he’s on the roster to start the season on an expiring contract. If that’s the case, his role on Calgary’s blueline looks to be far more crucial than we might have thought a few months ago.