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T.J. Brodie- An unsolved mistery

December 3, 2017

T.J. Brodie first really came onto my radar in training camp of 2010-2011. Who was this fleet footed d-man who looked as graceful on ice as a bird in the wind. His ability to skate and carry the puck out of his zone had me thinking we have the next Scott Neidermayer. Why did we keep this such a secret? So i looked up his stats. Close to a point per game d-man but with looking so good in an NHL camp how was he not over a point per game I wondered. He played 3 games and looked out of place in our own zone. A young d-man always needs some time I told myself. Checking his stats that year in the AHL had me excited for him. He was a plus 3 and had 34 points in 68 games leaving behind any other d-man on the Heat in the dust. In hind site he is the only d-man on that team to ever play in the NHL.

The next two years he split time between AHL and NHL with mostly playing limited minutes in the NHL. His skating still wowed me but still seemed to struggle in his own zone and his physicality was pretty none existent for a d-men of the time. I even wondered if he might be better off as a forward.

Now in his first full year 2013-14 he seem to come into his own. Second in defenceman scoring with 31 points only behind Gio who ended up being his d partner later in the year. He was even in plus minus on a team with mostly minus players. He seemed to have his own zone figured out using his skating to his advantage. With recent changes in the NHL he seem to be the poster boy of the new NHL d-man. 

2014-15 came with higher expectations and there was no let down finishing with his personal best 11 goals and +15 playing on the top pairing. He even received some Norris trophy votes. Him and GIo looked like they where ready to be the best pairing in the NHL

2015-2016 Is a turning point for me with Brodie. He still had a great year setting his personal best 45 points in 11 less games than he played the year before. With the Flames system at the time alloying our d-men jumping into the play at will he was turning into an offensive juggernaut. His d play seemed to take a hit though with his mind more on offense than a well rounded game but was easily over looked putting up big numbers. The league must have noticed this as well ending up with no Norris votes. I figured with Gio as his partner though he can cover up some of his defensive lapses wit the two still being one of the best NHL pairings. 

2016-2017 Things go a little sideways for TJ. He gets split up from Gio and moved back to his strong side. He is being counted on anchoring the second pairing with a natural rh shooting d-man in Hamilton taking his spot on the top pairing. Now if being split up from Gio wasn't hard enough the Flames have no other top 4 d-men. So he gets paired with another defensively poor d-man in Dennis Wideman or tough guy Deryk Engelland. So going from Gio who covers up some from his defensive woes to Wideman who he needs help covering his woes starts to really starts to show off Brodies d-zone issues again. This is easy to over look again cause of his poor partner. The trade deadline brings in Michael Stone which seems to help immediately in a 19 game stint. Brodie ends up with a respectful 36 points but is a dreadful -16.

2017-2018 Brings in more hope for Brodie bringing in defensive defenceman Travis Hamonic and re signing Michael Stone. We all think 2016-2017 will be washed away from our memory. In 26 games so far his offense is back. He is on pace for a personal best of 50 points. He is shooting more and is leading the D core in points and bringing the puck out of our zone on the PP like a champ. That's the cups half full approach. The cup is half empty as well though. He is on pace for his worst plus minus year. He is the teams worse currently at -10. It appears his only focus is on offensive opportunity. I cringe watching him watching the puck in our zone. He takes high risk low reward chances in our zone. He often looks out classed in our zone against other teams offensive players like he did with Wideman.  An example of that is McDavid, I thought Brodie with his skating ability would be a better match up than Gio. I was wrong. McDavid routinely makes Brodie look like a pylon in the two games they have played. Him with Hamonic or more limited minutes with Stone are a real drop off from the first pairing of Gio and Hamilton. I was hoping the top two pairings where going to be pretty even with a considerable drop off to the third pairing of Stone and Kuluk. So far the second and third pairing are much more interchangeable than the first two. 

At the time of his contract which carries a 4.650 aav till 2019-2020 I figured we had as good as contract as the Blackhawks do with Duncan Keith. At the time of the signing I seen no reason TJ couldn't be in the same category as Keith. I am starting to think that wasn't as good as deal as I originally thought. Maybe it is closer to what he is worth. Did Gio make him look way better than he is? We know Brodie is a great skating d-man with offensive upside that should hit that 40 point area year after year but are we now learning that he a defensive liability that needs a premier d-man like Gio to hide his deficiencies in a top 4 role. 



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