Kyle Brodziak had it tough from fans last season. He became a favorite target of scorn when things weren’t going well.
A big part of that ire was Brodziak posting the lowest goals per game rate of his career, except his first season where he played ten games and didn’t score.
While Brodziak didn’t have a banner year and it got bad enough that coach Mike Yeo scratched him at the end of the season, fans gave Brodziak a tougher time than he may have deserved.
The lower production rate had a lot to do with his deployment. Brodziak’s Zone Start % was 32.9%. That ranks 423rd out of 435 eligible players on Extra Skater (minimum of 62 games). Add to this that he played on only 2.7% of the team’s power plays. Over the three prior seasons his PPTOI% was 21.7%, 32.1%, and 22.2%. That’s a very steep drop off and makes it tough to really pin the lower goal rate on poor performance alone.
Brodziak’s also always been a big part of the team’s penalty kill, but his usage on the PK went up this year. He was on the ice for 49.7% of the team’s short-handed time for the season. In the previous three seasons he saw 40.2% in 2012-13, 41.6% in 2011-12, and 28.3% in 2010-11.
These factors, coupled with a 7% shooting percentage (second worst of his career), shows a more nuanced story of Brodziak’s utility and weaknesses last season than the raw goal total may allow for. His numbers were bound to take a hit due to the deployment and, as anyone who watched him miss open nets all season knows, he had a miserable shooting percentage that was well below his career average. You can expect some regression toward the mean on his shooting percentage next season.
Bad shooting percentage or not, here are the shots he connected on:
#1 — 10/14/13 vs. Buffalo Sabres MIN 2 – BUF 1
#2 — 10/26/13 vs. Chicago Blackhawks MIN 5 – CHI 3
A nice tip from Brodziak to help the Wild get a little revenge on Chicago for knocking them out of the playoffs the season before.
After that tip, Brodziak wouldn’t score for the next 30 games…
#3 — 01/02/14 vs. Buffalo Sabres BUF 1 – MIN 4
…and the way he broke the slump didn’t even involve getting the puck in the net.
#4 — 01/09/14 vs. Phoenix Coyotes MIN 4 – PHX 1
Brodziak puts in a nice looking goal, erasing the memory of his slump busting non-goal.
#5 — 03/03/14 vs. Calgary Flames CGY 2 – MIN 3
One thing Extra Skate won’t tell you about Brodziak’s season is that he was near the top of the league in WG% (Weird Goal Percentage). It was around 50% for Brodziak, though the system really should start weight goals like #4 a little more heavily. Nathan Horton deserved a good bump there for the goal he scored last season in a game that he didn’t play in.
#6 — 03/08/14 vs. Dallas Stars MIN 3 – DAL 4
#7 — 04/10/14 vs. St. Louis Blues STL 2 – MIN 4
The start of a two-goal night for Brodziak, his only multi-goal evening of the year. It’s a short-handed goal, to keep with the tradition of Brodziak’s late-season WG% rise.
#8 — 04/10/14 vs. St. Louis Blues STL 2 – MIN 4
Brodziak gets a weird bounce from behind the net off a Christian Folin shot. That’s Folin’s first NHL point. That’s another WG% bump for Brodziak.
#9 — 04/17/14 vs. Colorado Avalanche MIN 4 – COL 5 (OT)
Brodziak got scratched for the first time in Minnesota and came back with some fire.
#10 — 04/26/14 vs. Colorado Avalanche MIN 3 – COL 4
#11 — 05/02/14 vs. Chicago Blackhawks MIN 2 – CHI 5
Brodziak got the goal here, but this play was all Erik Haula. He loved playing against Chicago. He was on fire throughout the series. Imagine how different the perception of Haula as a player is, going into next season, if the Wild hadn’t played in the playoffs. A lot of the excitement about Haula is tied up in a fantastic postseason performance.