I think the best place to start when discussing Sheldon Brookbank is probably with one of the most deceitful statistics. Brookbank led the Anaheim defense in +/-. Normally, that wouldn't be a significant observation, except that his +10 was a full 8 points higher than the next closest defender, Aaron Ward who didn't even play the full season with the Ducks. I know that Brookbank only played 66 games, but that was the third highest total for a d-man in an Anaheim sweater. I think the +/- statistic is actually a strong indication of what you get in Sheldon Brookbank. He only finished with 8 points in his 66 games, certainly not the numbers of an offensive juggernaut. But it also means he managed to lead the team in +/- even though he didn't generate a lot of offense.
Brookbank was on the ice for only 29 even strength goals against. His goals against per 60 minutes played was 1.93. The team leader in that category was Luca Sbisa...go figure. Brookbank plays a very safe and smart game, something that Anaheim could have used a little more of earlier in the season.
He's not a tough guy in the traditional sense of the word. He only had 89 hits this year, but he did have 8 Fighting Majors. He is more than capable of defending his teammates, a nice bonus. He did have a problem with minor penalties. His 22 minors led the defense corps, and reveal a glaring weakness in his game. He isn't a very strong one on one defender. We've all seen Brookbank have his pylon moments on the ice. Arthur has a very distinct memory involving Pavel Datsyuk; I was unable to find the video.
This lack of one-on-one defensive skill limits his productivity on the PK. He averaged less than a minute of PK time a game, not great considering he played for a team that was shorthanded a 7th best 342 times. He was on the ice for 9 shorthanded goals against; he had the lowest PK ice time of any defender who played 60 or more games, but still was involved in 13% of the PPG we surrendered. Not exactly a shining PK endorsement. He's a PIM magnet and a potential liability shorthanded.
However, you can't deny that Brookbank does what he's told and doesn't make waves. He'd always been a scratch list defender until this year. I've never heard of him starting any trouble, though. His lunchpail attitude is refreshing, and I appreciate it in him. The security he provides in 5-on-5 situations makes him the ideal depth defenseman. Moreover, his ability to make the safer/smarter play, means he has Top 4 potential in a Carlyle system. The year we won the Cup, Sean O'Donnell's job was to be there anytime Chris Pronger wanted to do whatever it was that Chris Pronger wanted to do. I think Brookbank has similar potential, and could be very reliable for years to come. In 11 of his last 20 games, Brookbank logged 19 or more minutes. That's not definitive Top 4 time, but it's close. He skated over 22 minutes only 4 times. Still, I think the increase in playing time near the end of the season demonstrates that Carlyle and the organization were trying to give him a shot at proving himself.
Now for the contract offer. Brookbank gets 3 years and a frontloaded 3.5 million. He'll make 1.25 in each of the first 2 years and then a million in the final year of the deal. The cap hit comes out to a pretty uneven 1.16, but I think it's a great deal for all parties involved. Brookbank gets more than double what he made last year, and he gets a little security. We get a defenseman who can anchor a third pairing with an unproven talent, or play serious time with Visnovsky so that Lubo can do what he does best.
Brookbank's smart plays make him too valuable. He might be the most boring player on Anaheim's defensive corp. But, watching Wiz be irrational and indecisive, Eminger be desperate and uncoordinated, and Whitney be...Whitney, I enjoyed the security that Brookbank offers. He can't really carry play in the offensive zone, but that's what Visnovsky would be for anyway. Depth defenseman are always in demand come deadline time, so if we ever need to clear space he's very movable. Personally, I think we'll need him for the entirety of the contract. Brookbank is underestimated due to his low offensive output and general inability to make (or respond to) creative plays. That isn't a problem for us. The Ducks need D. Brookbank was a surprisingly stable force for us last year, when a lot of things were going wrong on the blueline. If we don't pay him, I can guarantee someone else will. This kind of signing will no doubt require moving someone other than Wisniewski. I just don't know who would take Eminger off of our hands.