It was Brad Treliving’s dirty little secret.
Prior to the announcement that the Flames general manager had locked up one of his best young assets for five more years, Treliving was hoping only he and a select few realized just how good TJ Brodie is.
|GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 22: T.J. Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on October 22, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) |
And how good he can be.
“I said early on that this was hopefully a quiet little secret that only we knew about – how good TJ was – but his side was paying attention too,” Treliving said moments after Brodie signed a five-year contract extension. “This guy is a really good player but there is still upside here. This guy is just scratching the surface.”
Treliving was elated to ink the 24-year-old blueliner who consistently logs north of 25-minutes of ice time every game and is a big part of what the Flames are trying to build moving forward.
“I think you’ve all seen where the game has gone and where it’s going,” Treliving pointed out. “He’s playing a lot of minutes – they’re hard minutes – he’s playing against the other team’s top players.
"These are hard minutes. These are minutes against top players, special team minutes, and it’s not only what he’s doing defending but, in a lot of cases – at least early on in the season – he’s been driving our offence. These types of players are so critical to have success in today’s game.
“That’s why we’re excited to get this thing done – to have TJ under contact. It’s a good day for us.”
Brodie is rounding out to be the player the Flames hoped he would be when they made him their fourth round selection (114th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The Chatham, ON native is currently riding a six-game point streak and is tied for the lead amongst NHL blueliners in points, with seven.
His production this year, however, didn’t play much of a factor into his contract.
“You can’t do deals of this magnitude in short snap-shots,” Treliving said. “It’s dangerous to look at a very small body of work. This type of player and where this market is going … I don’t think it’s getting any less expensive the longer you go.
“We were excited to get it done now.”
Brodie’s ceiling is yet to be determined but it’s widely anticipated to be very high.
“I think TJ is just scratching the surface … I think there is a lot more to this player,” Treliving continued. “As his game continues to mature, the sky is the limit. By him saying okay, let’s get this [contract] done, let’s do it … Let’s get some term here – this is where I want to be. It’s music to our ears and I think it sends a strong message to the rest of our organization.”
His career high in goals was set last season with four. He already has three this season in just seven games.
“I think TJ is getting an understanding about how good he can be,” Treliving said. “He can be a real good top defenceman in this league. The more that he understands that and trust his abilities and his game... you just see that confidence and him taking his game to a different level.”
For Brodie, it was an easy decision given the opportunity he has been given in Calgary.
“It’s definitely big when you get a chance to play,” Brodie said. “It’s a great group of guys in the room. They are great for me and we’re great friends so it was an easy decision to make.”
Putting pen to paper sooner rather than later was also appealing for Brodie.
“It seemed like a good deal,” Brodie said. “The longer you wait there is always risks, too. Whether it’s injuries or having a cold slump or something like that.
“To get it out of the way now, it gives me a chance to relax and not have to think about it.”
The shy and reserved Brodie didn’t ever imagine he would sign a large-scale contract like this, let alone be regarded as one of the top up-and-coming defenceman in the game. Now that he’s here, he wants to work on getting even better.
“Looking back three of four years ago I definitely didn’t expect this to happen. It’s not the end and I’ve got to keep improving and keep getting better.”