CALGARY — The pairing of newcomer Travis Hamonic with defenceman T.J. Brodie is paying dividends so far for the Calgary Flames.
It’s a small sample size just six games into the regular season, but Brodie has been able to get involved in the offence with Hamonic providing the security blanket on the back end.
Brodie’s two goals and four assists, including a four-point night in Calgary’s home opener, puts him among the NHL’s top-10 producing defencemen.
The 27-year-old from Chatham, Ont., cites the chemistry he’s developing with Hamonic as a factor.
“I know if anything happens he’s going to be back there and will be able to cover up,” Brodie said.
“He makes it easier out there that’s for sure. Getting that confidence together, especially early in the season is big for us. Hopefully it continues.”
The price tag to get Hamonic from the New York Islanders in June was hefty as the Flames spent their first- and second-round draft picks in 2018 on him.
But the sticker shock will fade if Calgary’s No. 2 pairing of Brodie and Hamonic, from St. Malo, Man., continue to play like a 1A behind Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.
“You always hope those things take,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “You put two good players together, they probably click at some point.
“We also know we had two good people. Their skill sets seemed to fit each other and then add in the people part, we knew that would be a good fit.”
Calgary (4-2) is at home to the Carolina Hurricanes (2-1-1) on Thursday and the Minnesota Wild (1-1-2) on Saturday.
Brodie’s defensive partners rotated last season and by the end of November he’d already played beside Giordano, Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland.
Brodie’s production of six goals and 30 assists in 2016-17 was slightly down from the previous season, but it was his minus-16 that was the clanger.
“I was a little disappointed in the season and it took me longer than I wanted to get going,” Brodie said.
“That’s something I wanted to focus on this year, coming out better at the start and just having a more positive impact on the team and on the games.”
The six-foot-two 205-pound Hamonic is a physical, stable presence complementing Brodie’s skating and puck skills.
“It’s easy for a guy like me to play with a guy like T.J. and I say that because the way he skates, his agility, his deceptiveness with the puck, his puck-handling ability, you’ve seen it for years and myself just the last couple of months,” Hamonic said.
“I can certainly jump up in the rush and I can move my feet and all those things, but that’s not kind of my job or my bread and butter. I want to be steady back there and fill a role for the team.
“To play with a guy like T.J., so far our styles have meshed pretty well together. It’s not just a speed thing. It’s the way he cuts, the way he moves and his agility is something to be quite envious of, certainly.”
The two men defend differently, but effectively, according to Giordano.
“Hammer, more punishing in the corners and stuff like that, where Brodes is deadly with his stick and the way he pops pucks off of forwards,” the captain explained.
“They’ve just jelled. It seems like it’s really working and getting better with every game. That’s a big part of our team, those two.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
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