TJ Brodie surprised everyone when he and Mark Giordano put up crazy numbers during the first few months of the season. They easily made one of, if not the, best defensive duo in the NHL last year, up until the point when Giordano got injured. This is when Brodie got stuck on a line with Deryk Engelland and his stats took a downfall.
No matter how much of a toll Giordano's injury took on Brodie, you can't really blame him in the end. One day you're playing with an elite player and the next day you end up playing with someone who is most likely a seventh defenseman on most teams. Having to adjust to that type of change which was probably very difficult. It also didn't help that it came at such a crucial time when the entire team was under pressure, and Brodie had sustained an ankle injury.
Fortunately, the upcoming season will be different in terms of what happens if someone like Giordano goes down. Unless trades are made involving one of the Flames' defensemen, then chances are that the worst player Brodie could play with would be Kris Russell.
Role in the lineup
Just like with most of the defensemen, it's not possible to pinpoint exactly where Brodie will play next season due to all of the options Calgary has. Will Hartley go back to the Giordano and Brodie pairing, or will he decide to move Brodie down to the second pairing to have a left- and right-handed defenseman on each pair? Both options seem feasible considering Brodie and Giordano had great chemistry, but at the same time having a left- and right-handed defenseman on the top two defense pairings isn't something that is easy to come by.
Luckily we do know that he will still be playing on the powerplay and penalty kill thanks to his versatility and two-way game. Currently I see Brodie third on the depth chart behind Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, which is a good thing for both him and the team since that means it has some really good depth. After all, what team wouldn't want TJ Brodie as their THIRD best defensemen?
Can he build off of last season?
Apart from the last 20 games, last season was Brodie's best in his (admittedly short) career. Even when he did have to play with Engelland we never saw him fall apart, except for a hiccup here and there. His stats during the first half were inflated to some degree, but considering the improvements Calgary's made in the offseason it wouldn't be surprising to see him put up similar numbers, just a bit more spread out than before.
2014-15 Statistics: GP 81 G 11 A 30 P 41 +/- +15 PPG 3 PPA 6
Predicted 2015-16 Statistics: GP 82 G 13 A 33 P 46 +/- +16 PPG 4 PPA 11
Next season should be another, if not better, season for Brodie since he has lived up to expectations in the past and will continue to do so in the 2015-16 season. Another season playing with Giordano and having the chance to play with an emerging top pairing defenseman like Hamilton will drastically help Brodie.
Even though he may not be the Flames' best defenseman right now, in the future it wouldn't be surprising to see him as a number two behind Hamilton. Apart from being a physical presence, which is not a bad thing, Brodie can do almost everything else that you would want a defenseman to do. He does have a defensive lapse here and there, but it's not at all a glaring weakness, especially since his offense makes up for it.
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