19TJ Brodie
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

FlamesNation player evaluation: TJ Brodie

It’s mind-boggling that TJ Brodie has already been a Calgary Flame for nearly a decade. Over the course of his tenure here, Brodie has received praise for his smooth skating and crisp breakout passes while also receiving criticism at times for occasional lapses in judgement in his own end.

One thing most Flames supporters can agree on is that Brodie and Mark Giordano work extremely well together. They formed a splendid pair for a few years before being split up by former coach Glen Gulutzan during the 2016–17 season. But they’ve been paired again for the last two years, with both players responding by providing the Flames with excellent hockey. Giordano captured his first Norris Trophy after being reunited with Brodie.

All good things come to an end, however, and it looks like Brodie could be on his way out of town. He’s an unrestricted free agent this fall with the ability to sign anywhere on October 9. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Brodie brought to the Flames this past year—and whether it would be in their best interests to explore bringing him back.

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2019-20 season summary

As has been the case for most of his career, Brodie was excellent for the Flames this season.

(Data courtesy of NaturalStatTrick)

64 4 15 19 20:27 52.07 +3.19 47.0 1.011

From an offensive standpoint, Brodie didn’t have his best year: he broke a streak of six consecutive years with at least 30 points in a season. Of course, the season was shortened due to COVID-19 and he missed a few games in November (more on that later), but he wasn’t on track to even score 25 points in a full 82-game campaign.

That said, the Flames’ defense corps kind of had a weird offensive year on the whole. They combined for just 26 total goals in 2019–20, a ridiculously low figure that screams “bad luck.” (That’s 26 goals over 70 team games, which pro-rates to 30 in a full season). For comparison’s sake, in the Flames’ dreadful 2017–18 season, their top two defenders (Giordano and Hamilton) combined for 30 goals by themselves. This year, Giordano, Noah Hanifin, and Rasmus Andersson tied for the Flames’ team lead in goals by a defender with, er, five. That’s it.

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So, we know that this year was a bit of an outlier in terms of defensive scoring. The good news? Brodie was a spectacular defensive presence for the Flames this season, once again pulling his weight alongside Giordano to form a top-5 pairing in the NHL. Giordano finished second among Flames regulars in xGA/60 with just 2.07 and Brodie wasn’t far behind, finishing sixth on the team with a 2.19 mark. He played confident, assured hockey, very seldom making the mistakes with the puck that routinely plagued him during the Gulutzan years.

Brodie missed a couple of weeks early in the season after suddenly collapsing during a practice on Nov. 14. He returned to the lineup on Nov. 25 looking better than ever, with his ice-time increasing from 19:12 per game before the incident to 21:04 after.

Compared to last season

Brodie was reunited with Giordano by former Flames coach Bill Peters at the beginning of the 2018–19 season. The reformed pairing performed spectacularly, with both members ranking in the top-5 on the Flames in CF%.

Brodie carried the heaviest load for the Flames at even strength last year, playing 17:38 per night but also being sheltered a bit at even strength with a 51.91% offensive-zone face-off rate. Brodie once again played over 17 minutes a night at 5v5 this year but, despite seeing much more difficult deployment, he remained one of the Flames’ best play-drivers.

Amidst a team-wide offensive frenzy, Brodie scored nine goals in 2018–19, the second-most he’s ever scored in a season, and added 25 assists for 34 points in 79 games.

What about next season?

The Flames have five UFA defensemen this fall: Travis Hamonic, Michael Stone, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, and, most importantly, Brodie. Not since Mike Cammalleri signed with the Devils in the summer of 2014 have the Flames allowed such an important player as Brodie to test the waters of free agency.

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Way back on Oct. 20, 2014, the Flames extended Brodie to a five-year extension worth $4.65 million per season. It quickly proved to be a bargain of a deal and it likely set the table for Rasmus Andersson’s similar contract that he signed back in January. At this point, however, Brodie is probably looking for a decent raise.

Will the Flames give it to him? They can afford it, for sure. They currently have a little over $17 million to play with in free agency this summer. Even with Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington, maybe Mark Jankowski, and a couple other guys needing new deals, the Flames could definitely fit a new deal for Brodie into their books (assuming it falls between $5-6 million per season).

But Brodie also has to want to sign that deal. At this point, where he plays is entirely up to him. All the Flames can do is make an offer and listen to what he thinks. Brodie is an Ontario product and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators are probably both looking to add to their defensive groups this summer.

Ultimately, it’s up to Brodie to determine which scenario presents him with the best fit. He holds all the cards.