Flames' T.J. Brodie to miss 3-6 weeks with broken bone in hand
Calgary defenceman injured in pre-season game
What was the strength of the Calgary Flames going into the NHL season has been dented by a broken bone in T.J. Brodie's right hand.
Brodie, who took over as Calgary's top defenceman after captain Mark Giordano was injured last season, will probably be sidelined three weeks at best and six weeks at worst, according to according general manager Brad Treliving.
Brodie's status Wednesday was said to be "week-to-week', but it is unlikely the 25-year-old from Chatham, Ont., will play in the season-opener Oct. 7 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary's group of defencemen, who contributed much at both ends of the ice to the team's playoff run last season, was even deeper coming into training camp because of the off-season acquisition of Dougie Hamilton from Boston.
But in Calgary's first pre-season game Monday, Brodie took a one-timer off his right hand in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers. It was determined the following day he broke his fifth metacarpal, which is the bone attached to his right pinkie finger.
The Flames defencemen compensated admirably for Giordano's absence the last quarter of the regular season and through two rounds of playoffs in 2014-15. The captain underwent surgery for a torn bicep he suffered Feb. 25.
Brodie, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman played close to 30 minutes per game while Deryk Engelland's ice time shot up to over 20.
Hamilton's presence softens the loss of Brodie, who doesn't require surgery and wore a brace on his right hand Wednesday.
"You've got Hamilton now here that we expect to absorb some minutes," Treliving said. "It's big minutes, right? We've experienced losing a top defenceman in recent times. We draw on that experience."
Hamilton also had his ice time increase early last season when Bruins teammates Zdeno Chara missed 19 games with a torn knee ligament. Hamilton, 22, finished the season third in Bruins ice time with an average of 21 minutes 20 seconds per game.
One major question coming into training camp was where Hamilton fits, given Giordano and Brodie were Calgary's top pairing and Russell and Wideman complement each other so well.
Hamilton and Giordano were defensive partners in Wednesday morning's skate.
"I haven't played with him too much obviously, but I think it was similar to playing with Zee — two guys that can move the puck well and make the game easy," Hamilton said.
That combination continuing is a strong possibility in Brodie's absence. Wideman and Russell were together again in Wednesday's skate.
The Flames have three pre-season games in three nights starting Thursday in Colorado against the Avalanche, followed by a home-and-home against the Canucks. Giordano, Hamilton, Russell and Wideman all skated in a group not bound for Denver.
The Flames captain felt some urgency to sort out defensive pairings with the loss of Brodie.
"What it does do, it makes training camp that much more important to build some chemistry, hopefully with someone, whoever I'm going to end up with," Giordano said.
"I'm sure we're going to get switched out and get mixed and matched, but we're going to have to sort out the pairs pretty quickly."
Ladislav Smid has been cleared for light contact, but coach Bob Hartley doesn't expect the Czech defenceman to play pre-season games. Smid, who has a one-way contract, had surgery on a herniated disc in his neck in February.
There are several blue-liners at Flames camp vying to start the season as Calgary's sixth and seventh defencemen.
Tyler Wotherspoon, 22, appeared in six playoff games for Calgary last season. Oliver Kylington, who was the Flames' first pick in the draft at No. 60, spent the last two years in the Swedish elite league.
Jakub Nakladal, 27, led the Czech Republic's defencemen in scoring at the world championship with five assists in 10 games. Aaron Johnson, Douglas Murray and Ryan Wilson were invited to camp as free agents and all have previous NHL experience.