The Calgary Flames locked up the game’s top-scoring defenseman for another five seasons, and by the time the deal kicks in next season, it might look like a huge bargain.
T.J. Brodie, who is tied with Victor Hedman and Brent Burns atop the NHL defensemen scoring parade with seven points, signed a five-year contract with the Flames worth $4.65 million annually ($23.25 million total). Brodie, 24, is in the second-year of a two-year bridge-deal that pays him $2.125 million. He would have been a restricted free agent next July.
For those who don’t watch the Flames on a regular basis, Brodie and defense partner Mark Giordano have been the team’s best players the past couple of seasons. ‘Brodano’, as they’re referred to, match up against the opponent’s top line, are on the first power play unit, play upwards of 25 minutes per game and boast strong possession and zone entry numbers.
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Brodie plays a style very similar to Chicago’s Duncan Keith. He’s a smooth, deceptively quick skater with a high hockey IQ. And he’s Drew Doughty cool with the puck. If Brodie can come close to maintaining his level of play through seven games (point-a-game pace aside) over a full season, he’ll get some Norris Trophy consideration and become a screaming bargain at $4.65 million until 2020.
In addition to being tied for first in points early in the season, Brodie is 13th in average ice time for defensemen (25:09). His new stipend of $4.65 million next season ranks him just 35th among defensemen in the NHL.
The only potential downside in this deal for the rebuilding Flames is that by the time their top young players mature and the team evolves into a serious Cup contender in four or five years, Brodie will be a 29-year-old pending UFA on a trajectory to seeking the biggest contract of his career. In that regard, the Flames might have wanted to lock up Brodie now for the next eight seasons, rather than just five.
But that’s a lot of projecting. For now, it’s a great deal for both sides.
Brodie has just 192 NHL games under his belt, and there’s been a glut of comparable NHL defensemen who have signed the past few months. Most recently, Jonas Brodin (21, 128 games) signed a six-year deal for $4.167 annually, and Jake Muzzin (25, 132 games) signed a five-year pact for $4 million a season.
Earlier, Justin Braun (27, 223 games) signed for five years at $3.8 million; Jake Gardiner (24, 171 games) inked for five years at $4.05 million; and Dmitry Kulikov (23, 318 games) signed for three years at $4.33 million.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN