Coming off a 2 goal performance against Phoenix, it's even hard to describe the contributions of Kyle Brodziak. He's scored big goals for the Wild, he currently leads the team with 10 goals, and he's on pace for a career year of about 43 points. If he keeps up his current pace, he could shatter that number easily. 6 points in his last 5 games gives one the impression that Brodziak is an elite scorer. To add to the riches that are K-Brod, he's a PK leader, he's a faceoff machine, and he's making the 3rd line click.
He's everything a team could want out of a 3rd-line center, and he'll be due for a raise from his $1.15 million per year salary. Wild fans left and right want an extension done for Brodziak, but is it a deal that can actually get done?
Make the jump, and let's find out.It's tough to actually put into word everything that Brodziak means to the Wild. He contributes everywhere for the team and in every facet of the game (5-on-5, powerplay, penalty kill). He's a jack-of-all trades, and championship teams are built from the foundation up with players like Brodziak. Chicago still has Dave Bolland, and they were able to surround him with Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd. Boston had a true leader in Mark Recchi to help anchor a 3rd line with up-and-comer Brad Marchand. Detroit has always had incredible depth up the middle, with Valtteri Filppula adding points and grit to a 3rd line. No doubt that Kyle Brodziak is cut from the same cloth as many of these players.
Unfortunately, the Wild have a few good centers that will be entering the system. Whether Mikael Granlund will remain at center or not remains to be seen, but scouting reports indicate that he's a better player up the middle than on the wing. Zack Phillips is a true center, with both the size and vision to play the middle in the NHL. Mikko Koivu is the #1 center on this team, and it would be hard to move him to wing or even consider another center usurping his position right now. Erik Haula is a center as well, but he may be in the same limbo position as Granlund. Needless to say, there are some talented pivots that will have an opportunity to join the Wild in the coming years.
What also needs to be considered is that this is a contract year for Brodziak. Currently, he's having a career year. His best statistical season prior to this year was a 37-point campaign last season with the Wild. For his career, Brodziak really is a middle-30's point producer. Is this current hot streak just Brodziak playing for his next contract? It's not a slight against Brodziak, as I've personally been a fan of his since he joined the Wild; however, it is something we see among players in a contract year. All athletes seem to elevate their games in contract seasons because they know the next contract is heavily influenced by their performance in a contract year.
Plus, he's 27 now, and he'll be 28 before this season ends. Typically speaking, the physical prime and best years of professional athletes are around the 27-30 age range. Considering the crazy spending that occurs in the free-agent frenzy, would Brodziak actually re-sign or would he rather test free agency and cash in on what could be his biggest contract? In all reality, he probably won't have another opportunity to cash in on a big contract. His 5 PP points thus far is more than he's ever had in a season. He is having a career year. He'll end up breaking just about all of his personal scoring records. That's usually when players cash in.
It would be great to see Brodziak back in the Red and Green sweater of the Minnesota Wild; however, he's going to need a raise and will probably want some contract security in the deal. Brodziak will be looking for a longer deal than just a two or three-year deal. Will Fletcher be willing to give Brodziak a big enough raise with enough years to entice him away from the UFA market?
What do you say, Wilderness? Can both sides come to a mutual agreement, or is Brodziak UFA bound?