BRODZINSKI EMBRACING ROLE WITH THE BARRACUDAOct 18, 2019
In a contract year, Jonny Brodzinski knew 2018-19 was big for his career and his future. If he played well, all indications were that he’d be in the Kings long-term plans, but an exhibition shoulder injury derailed a pivotal season for the 26-year-old and Brodzinski would only appear in 13 games with Los Angeles and two with its AHL affiliate the Ontario Reign.
“It was my contract year, so it wasn’t an ideal injury at the beginning of the year and to be out for six and a half or seven months, and you get back into the lineup and you’re kind of looked over,” said Brodzinski.
Once healthy, Brodzinski failed to find a consistent spot and was in and out of the Kings lineup. When free agency came around on July 1, it was clear LA was going to go a different direction.
The Sharks were extra familiar with the St. Cloud State University product since they had drafted his brother Michael in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL draft and had competed against him in the NHL as a member of the Kings and the AHL as a member of the Reign.
“Coming off the injury was tough. Seven months of grinding away, trying to get myself back to where I wanted to be,” said Brodzinksi. “I was finally able to skate at the four-month-mark and finally made it back into the lineup at the end of the year but I was healthy scratched a lot. Coming into this offseason I was just looking for another opportunity and that’s what San Jose gave me. It’s the perfect spot for me and a spot where I can help these guys out.”
On July 2, the Sharks inked the Blaine, Minnesota native to a one-year contract. Fully healthy, Brodzinski had a strong training camp and in four preseason games, he tied for the team lead with two goals. After being held out of the Sharks lineup for the first two regular-season games against Vegas, Brodzinski dressed in the next two when the team took on Anaheim and Nashville, but an 0-4 start prompted the resigning 22-year veteran Patrick Marleau, forcing the Sharks to place Brodzinski on waivers.
After clearing waivers, he was assigned to the Barracuda on October 9 and Brodzinski was back in the AHL where he was an All-Star in 2017 and one of the best players in the league over his four-year career.
So, what’d the Sharks tell the Brodzinski to work on while he was in the ‘A’ to get back up to the show?
“It was very particular to things defensively, being a little bit tighter to my guys, but also me being known as a bulldog and a goal scorer, to create more chances for my linemates and when I get the changes to shoot and score. You don’t get a lot of chances up there so when you do, you’ve got to take advantage of them.”
While the goal is to get back up to the Sharks, there’s still a lot Brodzisnki can provide for his current team.
“I just want to get this team better and create a winning culture here so when the young guys go up or whoever goes up, you know how to win and you can bring that to the team.”
With the Barracuda being the AHL’s youngest roster, Brodzinski recognizes there is room for him to take a leadership role.
“I’m 26 now, coming to this team there are a lot of younger guys. I feel like a dad out here at times (laughs) but it’s good and it’s a role I can take upon myself,” said Brodzinski.
When asked what the Barracuda and Sharks fans should expect from him, the answer was pretty simple.
“I like to play hard, I’m not a very finesse guy, so I’m looking to get open and use my heavy shot but I’m also going to be one of the first guys in on the forecheck using my body… I’m six-foot, 215 so there aren’t a lot of guys that can throw me around.”
Brodzinski's shot was on full display during training camp and Barracuda netminder Josef Korenar told Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer that he had one of the best shots he faced during camp.
Despite being 26 and a veteran of sorts in the AHL, there is no doubt the forward recognizes the value that the league has had on his career and continues to have.
“It’s the best, there is no other league like it, especially being so close to the NHL team. First being in LA and then Ontario, and even here it’s even closer. It’s good to get that feedback and you’re getting all the NHL guys watching your practices and watching your games.”