CALGARY, AB --
As the summer rolls along and the Calgary Flames training camp draws closer, the excitement surrounding prospect TJ Brodie
continues to grow.
The 21 year-old managed to stay in Calgary for the first three games of the 2010-11 season thanks to an impressive training camp performance last summer. After being sent to Abbotsford, he posted five goals and 34 goals in 68 games before an ankle injury took him out of action near the end of the season.
He became a power play specialist, accruing 18 points with the man advantage, and posted a plus-three rating despite being thrown against some of the league's best players. Brodie was also the lone Heat representative at the AHL All- Star game.
All in all, his first season in Abbotsford has been a success. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the defenceman.
After being assigned to Heat after his three game stint in Calgary, he struggled slightly. Former head coach Jim Playfair worked diligently with the blueliner throughout the year, helping him develop a higher sense of defensive awareness and gain consistency in his play.
Playfair alternated Brodie from left to right defence. He paired Brodie with various partners, eventually settling on the Chris Breen-Brodie combo that became the Heat's go-to duo in any situation.
Brodie also took what the Flames coaches told him during his short tenure with the club.
"I learned a lot last year. The main things were stick positioning, defensive awareness. That type of stuff."
The learning didn't stop when Brodie left the rink. He went from living with billet to staying with fellow Heat players Bryan Cameron
, Greg Nemisz and John Negrin.
"Living with four guys instead of a billet, that was a big difference too. I had to grow up pretty fast."
Brodie is pegged to be the most likely player to make the leap from the AHL to the NHL this season. Over the course of the Flames development camp, several members of the organization made it clear that as long as players showed the appropriate amount of growth, they would earn time in Calgary.
"They're starting to get younger I guess. It sounds like they're going to try to get the young guys into the lineup when they can at least," he said. "Obviously that's good for us. It's a motivator. We've just got to keep working hard and doing what we can."
However, he cautioned that no one can be presumptuous and must come to training camp with the right attitude.
"i'm just going to come in with the same attitude. Try to do the best I can and whatever happens, happens. Obviously I'd like to stick around as long as I can."Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson