Coming into the 2020-21 season, Mathias Brome was a wild card for the Detroit Red Wings. The 26-year-old never stepped on NHL ice before Jan. 14, yet has been one of their most promising players so far. While you wouldn’t know that from looking at the scoresheet, I’m going to explain why the Orbay, Sweden-native has been deserving of a roster spot, and even a top-six role on some occasions.
No Speed Limit
As someone who came in with low expectations for Brome, he stood out right away for me. He had one of the best scoring chances for Detroit in their first game (a snap shot coming down the wing that hit the post) and overall, he looks like he belongs at the NHL level. His European style of play (fast, mobile, and high IQ) has given his team the extra boost it needed, not only in the first game but on the season as a whole.
Brome’s speed is the most noteworthy attribute he has. It seems effortless for him to glide up and down the ice, no matter the situation. Considering he’s not a big guy (6-foot, 183 pounds), it’s not surprising seeing him move the way he has been. It’s especially notable when he’s paired with the older, slower guys on the roster in the bottom six of the lineup.
In Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers, Brome got top-line action with Dylan Larkin and Filip Zadina (who we’re all glad is back healthy). I thought he meshed rather well with those two and wouldn’t mind seeing that trio again if given the opportunity. Part of the success came from Brome being able to create space with his speed, allowing for his teammates to get some quality scoring chances. Although you’d like to see him score and get points (we’ll get into that), just watching the speed alone is impressive.
Where is the Scoring?
That is a great question. So far, in 12 games with the Red Wings, Brome has no goals, no assists, and a minus-five to his name. None of those stats are great and it’s tough to argue for someone keeping their spot in the lineup if they don’t contribute offensively. But since this season is becoming one of the weirdest and wackiest that we’ve ever seen, especially when it comes to a Detroit team that has looked awfully close to pitiful, taking the Swede out of the lineup would be a critical mistake.
Is it a matter of finding the right guys to play with? You can make an argument for that. He’s been moved up and down the lineup, playing at least one game on every line. He averages close to 20 shifts or 14 minutes of total ice time per game, so he’s not playing an insignificant amount of minutes. If I’m honest, I see Brome being a middle-six forward who can play some special teams minutes when called upon. Ideally, I think he makes a lot of sense on a line with Robby Fabbri or Vlad Namestnikov at the center position and Bobby Ryan on the opposite wing, while also getting some special teams minutes.
Brome was sent down to the taxi squad on Wednesday, but that was more of a paper move than it was about the actual roster. He should be back up when they take on the Nashville Predators for the first time this season at Bridgestone Arena. If he isn’t on the first line, which I’ll be surprised if he’s taken off after Tuesday’s performance, look for him to get some minutes on the second line. Should he continue to play in the top six, he’ll break his scoreless streak within the next two games guaranteed.
Brome hasn’t been a superstar in his first 12 games, but that’s not why the Red Wings brought him in. They wanted depth in the middle six and even though he hasn’t scored, he’s given a much-needed burst of speed in the lineup. His future with the team after this season is unknown at this point, but if he continues to play as effectively as he has so far, I don’t why he wouldn’t be with Detroit next year. More importantly, he needs to score his first NHL point, so look out for that in the next couple of days.