If we learned anything from the disappointing 2019-20 New Jersey Devils’ season it is that the defense is an area where the team must improve. Although the Devils have more defensive depth in their prospect system than most believe, there is a gaping hole in New Jersey’s top-four. Specifically, on the left side (see below).
With this in mind, our second free agent profile is going to examine Calgary Flames’ left-handed defenseman, T.J. Brodie. Our last profile on Russian forward Evegnii Dadonov can be found here.
Thomas James (T.J.) Brodie is a 30-year-old defenseman. The left-handed shot is listed at six-foot-one, 185 pounds. After making his NHL-debut as a 20-year-old he has spent his full 10-year career with the Calgary Flames. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time at seasons end.
Over the past ten seasons, T.J. Brodie has logged 634 career games, totaling 48 goals and 218 assists for 266 points. This is roughly a 34-point pace over the course of his career; which, is consonant with his recent output, totaling 36, 32, and 34 points respectively over the past three seasons. By these numbers, Brodie can be categorized as a two-way defenseman.
Examining T.J. Brodie analytically paints the whole picture of just how good he really is. First off, looking at the Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) chart above, the last two statistics show Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) and Corsi Against per 60 minutes (CA/60). Each are great statics in determining a players’ effect defensively in suppressing opposing teams’ shot attempts and scoring opportunities. The chart shows how far above league average his effect is when he is on the ice in these areas.
Offensively, Brodie can be aptly described as sneaky. His point total may not be anything special, but he helps his team in shot generation and scoring attempts in the offensive zone. This is confirmed by his above league average Expected Goals For (xGF/60) statistics depicted in the chart above.
Further investigation into T.J. Brodie’s Goals Above Replacement (GAR) statistic also impresses. He has a total GAR of 19.8 over the past two seasons. For comparison, Devils’ Damon Severson has a 3.7 rating, Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo has a 27.9 rating, and Bruins’ Torey Krug has a 16.7 rating.
Note, these are all based on the past two seasons and each player having roughly the same amount of games played.
T.J. Brodie is coming off a five-year contract with a $4,650,000 cap-hit. He will certainly be looking for a well-deserved pay increase in his next contract.
Interestingly enough, Evolving-Hockey.com is showing a projected contract of three-years at just a shade under $5,000,000. Meanwhile, Dobber Sports Net is projecting a cap-hit of $4,533,559. This is slightly less than what Brodie was making previously. And for this reason, I think it will be closer to a four-year deal with a cap hit around the $5,000,000.
Either way, general manager Tom Fitzgerald needs to be making a call to T.J. Brodie’s agent when free agency opens. At this projected price he is well worth the investment, despite being 30 years old already. Plus, defensemen seem to take longer to regress than forwards, so age is not as much as an issue as it may be with Evgenii Dadonov.
As a two-way defenseman that suppresses chances in the defensive end and generates for his team offensively, T.J. Brodie is a player that does not get the respect he deserves. Despite the bigger names such as Torey Krug, Alex Pietrangelo, and Tyson Barrie also hitting the market, Brodie should be touted at their level as well. He will instantly make any team’s top-four better.
Luckily for the Devils, Brodie is left-handed and fills a team need perfectly. Outside of Will Butcher and Ty Smith, New Jersey does not have much on the left-side. His veteran presence would also help the likes of Ty Smith and the other younger defenseman working their way up the Devils’ system. T.J. Brodie is a top target of mine for the Devils this upcoming offseason.