The Maple Leafs have signed a top-four defenseman: TJ Brodie has inked a four-year, $5 million AAV contract to come to Toronto.
The contract will keep Brodie under contract until he’s 34 years of age. Calgary had an interest in bringing Brodie back among other suitors, which in addition to their desperate need on defense, likely explains why the Leafs extended themselves here in terms of the ideal AAV and term for the 30-year-old Chatham native.
TJ Brodie contract breakdown with Leafs:
All base salary no signing bonus
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 10, 2020
The fact that Kyle Dubas tried to make a move with Calgary last June before the Barrie – Kadri trade went down comes to mind immediately here. Reports at the time indicated that Kadri nixed the move to Alberta before Dubas pivoted and made the trade with Colorado.
Before the trade deadline in February, Brodie was again linked to the Leafs, with (not necessarily founded) rumours swirling about a possible Tyson Barrie-for-Brodie swap. Bill Comeau wrote about Brodie as a possible left-handed solution on the right side of the Leafs defense at the time. The pros and cons broke down as follows:
- good skater & puck mover with a strong defensive profile
- has played a shutdown role
- good shot suppression numbers
- fills an immediate need on the right side
- can penalty kill
- signs of lowering usage, possible aging decline
- some uncertainty about how much Mark Giordano helped his past numbers
- left-handed (can play the right side)
As mentioned above, Brodie is left-handed, but critically, he has ample experience playing on the right side. His play driving relative to teammates has been strong historically, particularly his suppression of expected goals against.
As his SKATR chart below shows, his usage generally checks out based on Toronto’s needs: heavy ice time facing elite forwards (~85th percentile) and relied on in the defensive zone (only at the ~14th percentile in offensive zone starts). He can also help out on the penalty kill.
The risk with this four-year deal comes in the first bullet point listed in the cons column above. Brodie is on the wrong side of 30 and his first-pair deployment was creeping into the rearview mirror in Calgary, with a decline in ice time starting in 2017-18. He began to shift more into the role of a second-pair LD at times, and his career performance has shown some decline since his peak year in 2013-14.
That said, he remained a positive contributor based on expected standings points created and expected (net) goals above expected created per 60 minutes.
Brodie has generally been healthy throughout his career and skates well, which mitigates some of the concern with his age-related decline, but there is, of course, notable risk involved with the final year or two of the four-year term on a $5 million contract for the 30-year-old. Like 31-year-old Jake Muzzin’s four-year deal, Brodie’s contract now outlasts Morgan Rielly’s by two years, and we have no idea how much — if at all — the cap will grow in the next two seasons.
It is also worth noting how Brodie achieves his defensive results. He fits more in the mold of a prime Jake Gardiner — who also had excellent shot suppression numbers as a Leaf — than he does that of the bruising, shutdown right-shot defenseman many Leafs fans were picturing as their dream addition this offseason.
With good four-way mobility and tight gaps, Brodie defends the blue line well, which shows in his strong entry defense numbers. A smooth and powerful skater, he goes back on pucks and retrieves well. He also moves the puck well with a strong first-pass ability, which shows in his strong controlled exit numbers. For those reasons, Brodie should provide Morgan Rielly with his first truly credible top-four partner since… ever.
— The Point (@ThePointHockey) October 9, 2020
Leafs fans will be hoping Brodie can be most of what Tyson Barrie was not; while he’s not the physical shutdown RD of their dreams, hopefully, he can help the team play on offense more often and hold his own defensively in relatively tough minutes for the next few years of the Leafs’ Cup window.
The Leafs will need some cap creativity now in order to get Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott under contract, but there was never any question they were going to have to be aggressive about addressing their right side in a substantial way with only Justin Holl and a whole lot of unknowns at the position prior to this signing.
There is more to come from Dubas and co, and that could include further work on the blue line depth, but here is the general picture if the season started tomorrow:
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin/Lehtonen – Dermott
Extras: Liljegren, Marincin
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) October 9, 2020
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 10, 2020
TJ Brodie Scouting Report (from prior to 2019-20 season)
courtesy of Gus Katsaros & McKeen’s Hockey
Bold, strong-skating puck mover .. wide, powerful stride .. orchestrates clean controlled breakouts – smooth, soft passer, long and short range .. effective in transition and at the top of the offensive zone .. maintains NHL pace, however strays from desired tempo and gets caught in possession .. disappointing opening (five assists) and closing (1-2-3) quarters bookended a decent second and fruitful third quarter (4-12-16) featuring six multipoint games in a 10-game span .. scored twice in the playoffs .. benefited partnering with Norris Trophy partner Mark Giordano and his second season with over 20 5v5 points .. relegated to a secondary power play unit, took a hit to his production, with four points after putting up 10 in the previous two seasons .. if the trend continues – and with inevitable regression from partner, Giordano, 30 points would be a proper valuation here.
TJ Brodie Advanced Stats: A3Z
TJ Brodie Video Highlights
TJ Brodie Statistics
|2005-06||Chatham-Kent Cyclones U16 AAA||ALLIANCE U16||31||8||10||18||22|||||-|
|2015-16||Calgary Flames “A”||NHL||70||6||39||45||18||4|||||-|