T.J. Brodie (Defense) - Midseason Grade: C+
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Our Individual Grades:
HockeyGoalieEh: (C-) Hockey players generally have a penchant for biting their tongues, often offering up cliches and towing the team line rather than offering anything of substance and in many cases that’s to their detriment. In some cases, that’s also to the detriment of the team. Such was the case for T.J. Brodie this year.
Brodie is a left handed defenseman who prefers to play on the right hand side, yet despite this he played on the left and was stuck with some of the worst talent in the league for a second pairing. As a result his numbers at even strength were pretty abhorrent, but it was more of an example of the Flames failing Brodie more than Brodie failing the Flames. Brodie was paired with Dennis Wideman, Michael Stone, and Deryk Engelland for the vast majority of the season, none of whom are better than a sixth defenseman; all of whom played the right side where Brodie performs better.
On the surface Brodie looked better with Stone, but in actuality their tandem was quite bad - they were boosted by a completely unsustainable 104.94 P.D.O. For comparison, the tandem of Kris Russell and Wideman was at 103.25 back in 2014-2015 and they predictably fell off of a cliff the following season, so it would behoove the Flames to not fall for the trap of thinking that this was a successful pairing. While Brodie’s even strength numbers were those of a lower-performing second pairing player to a higher-performing third pairing player, he did execute at an above-average rate on special teams.
Hopefully next season they can find him a suitable partner on the left side and he can regain that elite status. It’s a lot easier to find somebody on the left and there’s no shortage of options. Brett Kulak performed more than amicably and could be an option within the system, but guys like Michael Del Zotto, Andrei Markov, Matt Hunwick, Mark Streit, and Ron Hainsey are all veteran options that could be had for no other assets other than cap space, some with more reasonable price tags than others. This will be the most important piece of the puzzle heading into next season and if they strike gold here expect them to make huge strides in 2017-2018.
MarkParkinson14: (C). Brodie is like the tale of two halves of a season. He struggled mightily when paired with Dennis Wideman, but his game turned around when Michael Stone was acquired. I’m looking forward to a full season of Brodie paired with a partner on defense that isn’t an anchor.
FlamesMM: (B) While Brodie struggled for the first half of the season, I feel like it was more of a combination of his partners and playing back on the left side. Once Stone arrived, Brodie really improved, and he looked even better in the limited glimpses on the right side. If the Flames are looking for a fourth defender this offseason, it may make sense to acquire a left handed shot and get Brodie back on the right side. As Giordano starts to age over the coming seasons, Brodie will be heavily relied upon to pick up the slack to keep the defensive core strong.
Samwell9: (C+) Brodie is an excellent player on a great contract and the Flames are extremely lucky to have him on their team. That being said, this was not a banner season for him. After spent the past few seasons alongside a perennial Norris Candidate in Mark Giordano, this year he had different partners and it did not go as pretty. The first half of the year was particularly rough, as having to adjust to playing with the slow-as-molasses Dennis Wideman really took a toll on how Brodie was able to play the game. While he bounced back to a degree after being paired with a slightly more competent partner in Michael Stone, it just was not a great season. He did have a solid effort in the playoffs however and I am confident that next season alongside a better partner, he will be playing closer to the level we have seen in previous seasons.
Our Final Grade: C+
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