CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames defenceman TJ Brodie's first full season in the NHL has been an up-and-down affair.
The 21 year-old was expected to claim a roster spot heading into the season but after a lackluster training camp and preseason, Flames brass opted to send him back to the Abbotsford Heat to refine his game.
He put in 12 games with Abbotsford, scoring one goal and posting three points with a plus-four rating.
He was summoned by the Flames on Nov. 9, 2011 after Anton Babchuk was sidelined with a broken hand, and he didn't waste the opportunity. He meshed seamlessly with the defensive corps, playing with confidence and poise. He hit some rough patches over the course of the season as he learned to navigate the NHL waters but used those situations as learning experiences.
"After I was here for awhile, I felt like my game plateaued or dropped off a little bit," he said. "I had to figure out how to play against some of the top two or three lines. Battle harder and be more physical.
"I thought (my year) went okay overall. Obviously there is room for improvement and hopefully I can improve for next year."
Brodie suited up for 54 games in Flames silks this year, recording his first NHL goal on Nov. 27, 2011 in a clash with the Minnesota Wild and ending up with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) to his name.
Ironically, one of Brodie's brightest moments came in the Flames worst game of the year.
In 9-0 loss, one would expect every player on a team to have had a bad night but Brodie turned in a resilient performance on Jan. 5 in Boston. He was the only Flames player to end the game with an even rating and what makes this even more incredible is that Brodie ended up playing the most minutes of any skater wearing a Flames jersey that night.
Brodie put in 24:57 of ice time against the Bruins and was regularly facing off against the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin. As the game progressed, Brodie didn't falter. He elevated his play and had an edge to his game.
The Chatham, ON native played 26 more times after the Beantown rout, accruing six points and a plus-six rating, before his season came to a premature close. In the Flames 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets, Brodie suffered a concussion that has kept him out of action.
The recovery process has been frustrating, especially in the early stages.
"You just don't feel right. When I got it, I felt almost a step behind, like I couldn't make decisions fast enough. Just sort of cloudy I guess.
"I'd feel good for a couple of days and try to do something and sort of feel bad after that. I had to go back, take a couple days off again, and try to take it one step at a time."
However, he has taken huge strides recently and has been skating with the team. Even though he has been feeling fine, Brodie stressed he will be taking as much time as he needs before he goes full tilt with his training regimen.
"I don't want this to be a reoccurring thing. I just want to make sure that everything's right before I try to take the next step."
The Flames selected Brodie in the fourth round (114th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. His first NHL stint came in the 2010-11 campaign when he played three games with Calgary.