Oilers #6 Prospect December 2007: Kyle Brodziak

Current Rank: 6
Summer 2007 Rank: 15

In any given season, there are probably 50 guys in the AHL who are about where Kyle Brodziak was this time last year. Solid minor leaguers, fringe NHL players who lack that extra gear, have 15-20 home run power but can only play LF, RF or 1B. Walk enough for a decent OBP but hit .267 instead of .295 at Triple A and get passed over for callup when injuries hit.

In the summertime I wrote Looks to me like he’s the new Rem Murray. Brodziak is the highest ranking “future role player” on my list, but he’s earned it. Good size and strength and he’s coachable. Limited upside but I think he’s a player.

15th overall to 6th overall is a leap, but Brodziak earned it by working very hard to glose the gap between “fringe NHL player” and “NHL regular.” How did he do it?

In March of this year, Guy Flaming at Hockey’s Future ranked him 13th on his list, saying “The most obvious improvement in Brodziak’s abilities from last year is in his skating. Not unlike Jarret Stoll before him, Brodziak has never been regarded as a good skater but no longer does he stand out for being slow. If he can continue to improve at the pace he has this year, who knows where he could end up on the Oilers’ depth chart.”

Brodziak spent the summer working on strength and conditioning, and on the night of September 17, 2007 he gained clearance from names like Marc Pouliot, Jean Francois Jacques and Patrick Thoresen. Coach MacT that night: “That’s the closest you’ll get to a perfect game. He wasn’t in the wrong position all night. Made great plays with the puck, scored two goals, had a beautiful shorthanded assist, big block at the end. There’s nothing he didn’t do tonight. He looks faster and stronger and maybe the most important difference for him is mentally he’s ready to stay. And it looks like he’s made the decision that he’s staying. That was a hell of a game.”

MacTavish made a similar decision on Daniel Cleary fall 2000, and Buck Rodgers did the same with Mitch Webster 20 years ago.

Brodziak, like Fernano Pisani before him, represents the group of players without draft pedigree who outdistance the higher picks by a wide margin. Since 2000 when MacT arrived, players like Jani Rita, Alexei Mikhnov, Jesse Niinimaki and Marc Pouliot have not found that extra gear that Brodziak acquired through old fashioned hard work and determination.

Kyle Brodziak doesn’t belong in the NHL based on pure talent and skill. He belongs in the NHL because he earned it by making himself into a better, more useful player who could take on a variety of roles due to increased speed and improved strength.

There’s a lesson to be learned by other players currently playing in Springfield.

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6 Responses to "Oilers #6 Prospect December 2007: Kyle Brodziak"

  1. Black Dog says:

    I’m a big fan of Brodziak – a guy who busted his ass to turn himself into a player. As you say, LT, its too bad a lot of other guys didn’t have the same guts and smarts.

    Now the Oilers have a guy who is going to be able to kill penalties, protect a lead, score fifteen or so. Good for him.

    And a start on filling out a decent bottom six that can do the job. With him, Moreau and Pisani we’re halfway there. I think Thoresen should be on that list too but I’m not part of the powers that be. :)

  2. Ribs says:

    The kid in the stands behind the glass in that pic is awesome.

    …and Brodziak is good too.

  3. PunjabiOil says:

    I’m also a big fan of Brodziak. Great two way player. I like the Pisani comparison.

    Damn those jersey’s look sweet in the pic. I hope we go retro soon.

  4. IceDragoon says:

    Lain,

    You know I’ve loved this kid for a long time. He’s smart and just keeps working his *** off and improving.

    That said, I temper my enthusiasm with his progress this year with… he’s been almost welded to Reasoner’s right hip. Marty is an easy c to play with provided his linemates keep it simple.

    Gagner and Cogliano have had to play all forward positions, with many different linemates.

    For the most part the kids have impressed me with their positioning. Problem is… they don’t have the experience and/or strength to be very effective while in good position. *sigh*

    Kyle has a few years on the wunderkinds and I like the way MacTavish has handled him. Perhaps when/if Moreau returns he joins 19 & 51 for some solid #3 ESTOI + PK duties.

  5. Dennis says:

    51 is a kid you sort of take for granted because, for the most part, he’s pretty damn steady.

    Not really sure how many goals he’ll top out as but he seems like a good bet to stay at or above even, chip in 12 to 15 goals and do a good job on the PK. And unless he scores 14 goals in 24 playoff games;), he’ll remain an affordable guy who keeps things under control and allows the top six forwards to score the goals.

    I see talk of how he has the advantage of breaking in with 19 and remembering that 19 played a lot of time last year with 28 and Winchester, and thinking back to a nice little stretch they had, how about putting 28 on the portside with 19-51 for the time being? Not sure what their EV numbers are but I’m not really likeing the 13=19-51 line. Doesn’t seem like they’re getting much done; then again maybe I’m wrong on that one

  6. IceDragoon says:

    Yeah, Dennis.

    I think we both see and like that 51 can become a guy the coach trusts.
    *<3*

    Interesting thought on Thoresen. 19/51 have much better chemistry than 19/26 ever could. Brodziak is smarter and doesn’t run hot and cold the way Winchester did.

    I think MacT wanted Cogliano to replace Sanderson’s speed on the forecheck, but the kid’s got to take about 2 – 10 redbulls out of his pre-game preparations.

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