Yesterday I talked a little bit about the deal that sent Kyle Brodziak to the Minnesota Wild. At the time, I thought I would wait until Brodziak signed a new deal before coming to a conclusion about whether or not the deal was a success. Having thought about the deal since then, I've decided that there isn't really any reason to wait: this was a very bad trade by the Edmonton Oilers.
Kyle Brodziak wasn't exactly an outstanding player. He played on the penalty kill, but the penalty kill was terrible and he was not a light shining through that darkness. His scoring chance numbers are poor at even strength (+190-244 = 43.8% efficiency) and his Corsi of -187 doesn't scream success. He made up for the poor shooting numbers with a high PDO number of 101.6 (much like the Oilers as a team who had a -359 Corsi but 101.3 PDO number). None of this makes Brodziak sound all that good. In fact, he looks a bit like a part of the problem. However, Brodziak also started 149 more times in the defensive zone than he did in the offensive zone, second on the team to Shawn Horcoff (156). The percentage for Brodziak is even more difficult than for Horcoff. Brodziak started 44.9% of the time in the defensive zone (as opposed to the neutral or offensive zone), compared to only 38.5% for Horcoff (still very high). Kyle Brodziak may have been playing lesser opposition, but he was most definitely not getting the cherry time. The fact that he did in fact manage to put up a -2 playing 5v5 is, to me, pretty impressive. Further, the fact is, other players in a similar situation to Brodziak weren't doing any better. Kyle Brodziak was helping this team last year.
Some will say that they're going to go out and replace him. To me, this isn't a good excuse. This doesn't mean that they don't need to replace him, just that, when people say that they're usually referring to a "third line" center. But they needed to "replace" that when #51 still wore Oiler silks. If there's one thing I learned from Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll it's that if Stortini is on your line you should not be considered a shut-down line. From what I recall Zorg was on Brodziak's line. So, even if they go out and get a veteran center, who is going to take Brodziak's spot on the fourth line? As a fourth line or press box option, Brodziak provides reasonable cover in case of injury to one of your top two defensive centers and he plays for under a million dollars. In other words, helpful.
So why wouldn't they want him? As far as I can tell the possible correct answers include (1) a personality or attitude problem or (2) he was asking for too much money. I grant that (1) is possible but I find it pretty unlikely. It's especially unlikely since part of the reason the Wild wanted Brodziak is because the manager and coach are familiar with him from their time together in Wilkes-Barre. That would seem to speak highly of his character. Then again, maybe Tom Gilbert had finally had enough of Brodziak's harsh language. As far as (2)is concerned they could have just let him know that they weren't going to be paying him more than $850,000 per season and that he should go and look for offer sheets and take the highest one he can find. If, by chance, someone gave him more than $850,000 (or so, this is an approximation) and the compensation in return would have been a third round pick which is better than what they received in the trade (Brodziak + 6th for 4th + 5th). I fail to see how letting him go via offer sheet isn't superior to this trade.
The other possibility is that they just really liked both Kyle Bigos and Toni Rajala. Possible. However, if this is the case then this all could have been remedied by not taking Gene Snitsky in the third round. If the reason we traded Kyle Brodziak is so that we could make sure that we took some goon in the third round. Well, that's unbelievably stupid. Thankfully, Steve Tambellini's comments don't really make that point. Here's what Tambellini had to say about the trade:
"I'm not sure that's exactly what's going to happen to that position... We do need to change our lineup a little bit, we have too many bodies at forward. It's going to have a little bit different look. We're willing to give some people a chance that maybe they haven't had before, but we also had a chance to pick up a goaltender in the fifth that our guys were very focused on and when we found a partner in Minnesota to get both picks it made sense."
Unfortunately, Tambellini's comments also don't make a lot of sense. They made the trade to pick up the extra fifth to get the goalie? You made the trade at #99 and didn't take the goalie until #133. Ridiculous. It sounds from this quote like Tambellini isn't too sure what the center position will eventually look like. Maybe he'll give Pouliot or Brule a shot. The problem is that neither of those guys are as qualified as Brodziak. Count me unimpressed that he sent away a useful piece for less than fair value before he was sure about what he wanted the position to look like. A small trade, no doubt, but these kinds of transactions are what suck your NHL depth dry. Good teams don't make them.