By Sonny Sachdeva, November 6 2014 —
After a decade of disappointment, the Calgary Flames’ future appears to be trending upwards.
Calgary’s youth movement has been in full swing as of late, beginning last season with the emergence of Sean Monahan and his 22-goal rookie season. The 2014–15 campaign saw the movement kick into overdrive with the arrival of highly-touted prospects such as Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and a host of other gifted forwards.
Yet a certain member of the Flames’ blue line may be Calgary’s best bet at a strong future.
Thomas James Brodie, Calgary’s 24-year-old star defenceman, is just that. The young defender’s play has launched him into the conversation of the NHL’s best blueliners. Following a 31-point performance last season, Brodie began the 2014–15 season paired with captain Mark Giordano. The result has been the most elite and competitive pairing the Flames have seen in years.
Through the first 13 games this season, Brodie netted four goals and 12 points. He is on pace to shatter his career records.
The advanced-stat crowd are abuzz with praise for Brodie and Giordano. In terms of their effectiveness in controlling possession relative to the rest of their teammates, they finished first and second, respectively.
Brodie’s strong play certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Flames locked him up until the 2020 season for the hefty sum of $23.2 million, or $4.6 million per year.
While Brodie’s offensive numbers are a welcome bonus, it’s his defensive play will lead Calgary to a more competitive future.
Turn on a Flames game for five minutes and you’ll understand the value of the young Brodie. He appears all over the ice, dipping behind the net to casually slip the puck up the boards or breaking through the neutral zone to push the pace offensively.
To say Brodie has exceeded expectations is an understatement. Alongside Giordano, the young defenceman is blossoming into one of the NHL’s most promising new stars at any position and, more importantly, he shows no signs of slowing down.
His $4.6 million annual salary, the second-highest on the team next season, may seem a bit high — he’ll earn a couple hundred grand more than his captain and linemate, Giordano — but will be a steal in a few years when Brodie is navigating a mature Flames squad through the playoffs.
The one thing that separates Calgary’s rebuilding effort from that of their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers, is their growth on the back end. While Edmonton’s Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle can match the Flames’ Monahan, Gaudreau and Bennett, the Oilers have no answer for Calgary’s elite defensive pair.
This balance will be Calgary’s biggest strength as they move forward.
With their dynamic young forwards leading the charge up ice, and the skilled, reliable pairing of Brodie and Giordano holding down the fort behind them, Calgary is finally poised to grow into a contender.