In Bob Stauffer’s column in the Sun today (here), we get some interesting information on Kyle Brodziak and his possible role on the club next season:
- (look for) Kyle Brodziak to see significant minutes on the third line, including first unit penalty-killing.
- (Brodziak) has been one of the Oilers who has been prominent at team functions, such as the Daryl Katz press conference and the unveiling of Graham Rahal’s Oilers-sponsored car at the Rexall Edmonton Indy.
The first bullet basically tells us he’s going to fill Jarret Stoll’s role on next season’s team, and the second bullet implies (probably correctly) he’s in the “In-Crowd” amongst management and ownership. Brodziak’s being a part of a major Edmonton event involving Oilers ownership is in sharp contrast to Raffi Torres and his profile in the last 12 months, as an example.
How prepared is Brodziak for this role? Was he used on PK a lot last season? What about faceoffs? Good questions, and here are the answers:
- What kind of competition did Brodziak face one year ago? Low-level. According to Desjardins numbers, Gagner, Brodziak and Cogliano faced about the same toughness of opponent one year ago, which was well below the tough sledding Stoll, Reasoner and Horcoff (when healthy) faced this past season. Which makes sense, MacT was going with veterans in situations he felt the kids would get demolished.
- What kind of linemates was he out there with? This is where there is a bit of a disconnect between Brodziak and the Glimmer Twins. Whereas Gagner was playing with top level linemates and Cogliano was getting secondary help, Brodziak was getting the dregs to play against the dregs. Stoll and Reasoner got the short end of this stick too by the way, which has to be considered when discussing their final numbers.
- How did he perform based on level of competition/linemates? Pretty well. Brodziak’s 5×5/60 number was 5th best on the team (2.09) and his Corsi number (-5.4) was mid-pack on the Oilers. Cogliano (who faced similar opponents with better linemates) was -11.7 Corsi and Gagner (who faced similar opponents with top level linemates) ended up with an almost identical Corsi number (-5.6) to Brodziak. Using this information, Brodziak would appear to be the best possible option among the young centermen who played all of last season to have his toughness curve increased for 08-09.
- What about Pouliot? He’s an interesting prospect among the young centers because there’s all kinds of things flying around him. Apparently he balked at MacT’s suggestion he could fill a “Guy Carbonneau” role on the team (which is exactly the role we’re discussing) and Pouliot’s career has been rife with bad timing (mono, poor starts, avoiding the Mandelbaums).
- What about Pouliot the player? There is SOME evidence he may be the best player for the role we’re discussing. Understand this is in limited time (24 games, about 1/3 of a season) but Pouliot played with the dregs and against the dregs while coming out with a positive Corsi number (3.4). There’s not enough here to suggest Pouliot is a better option than Brodziak for the role but he would seem to be the best guy after him on the depth chart (as it stands today and assuming we exclude Horcoff).
- Could Brodziak end up being the best player from the 2003 draft? We talked about it a long time ago at hf and I think it’s at a point where it’s probable. We always say “this season will tell us a lot” and I think it will. The Oilers have Pouliot signed to a nice contract and Brodziak will be looking for a big payday next summer. The “role player” scale for the Oilers seems to be in the low 1’s these days and I don’t know that Brodziak will be in the mood to sign at that level a year from now. In order to get the Stoll money he’d have to step up offensively.
- How much time did he spend on the PK? According to nhl.com Brodziak spent 2.5 minutes a game last season on the PK, trailing only Reasoner, Stoll, Moreau (only 25 games) and Horcoff. He would be an obvious choice to replace the Stoll minutes here (along with Pisani who was next on the list) and seems to have the skill set required for the job. He did go 1-2-3 shorthanded this past season.
- What about faceoffs? As one might expect when so many rookies are taking faceoffs, this was an area of weakness one year ago. Andrew Cogliano took 542 faceoffs and won 39.5% of them, Gagner took 299 and won 41.8%. Among the kids, only Brodziak could manage over 50% (he won 153 out of 297, 51.5%) and for that alone he would have to be considered a strong favorite for the 3line, PK and “taking RH draws in the Oilers end” roles on the team.
- What will the increased competition do to his stats? I’ve left this until last because his numbers are unlikely to increase this season. Brodziak went 80gp, 14-17-31 -6 last year and with the increase in difficulty I’d say a season anywhere close to those totals would be top drawer. If he can hold this job, he’ll be a very valuable young player next summer.
By The Numbers
07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.09
07-08 5×4 per 60m: 0.00
My Prediction for this Season
82gp, 10-20-30 (.366 per game)