When you score 22 goals as a freshman, fifth best in the country, it’s hard not to get noticed. NHL scouts tend to sit up and take notice. So, St. Cloud State’s Jonny Brodzinski had a good feeling heading into this year’s NHL Draft. However, being selected by the Kings in the fifth round was almost too good to be true, as the 6-0 forward had coincidentally become good friends with teammates Kevin Gravel and Nic Dowd – also LA prospects.
Along with two dozen other players, all three are in town this week for the Kings annual Development Camp.
During our recent chat with Brodzinski he shared that he’s a big golfer, loves to fish and his dad played hockey at St. Cloud too – under legendary coach Herb Brooks.
When it came to his teammates, he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind either. For example, any notion that Dowd was the ‘clean freak’ in the house shared with Gravel was dismissed rather quickly – “I don’t know about that. I think that might be self-proclaimed.”
Now, here are seven more questions with the kid they call Brodzy…
Second time through the draft, how was the experience for you this time around?
“I was pretty optimistic going into this draft. If I wouldn’t have gotten drafted, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But, I talked to LA and they seemed pretty interested. When I sat down with them, they were asking lots of questions about what I wanted to do with my future in hockey and how I was going to prepare myself in these next couple of years and further myself to play in the NHL. So, going into it that was my primary hope, to get drafted by LA.”
After you were selected, we posted a video from a few years ago where you said ‘phenomenal’ when asked for one word to best describe you. Excellent word. Did you get chirped by teammates for that though?
“Yeah, a bunch of guys on the team the year before said little things like hardworking and stuff like that. But, that year everyone decided to switch it up and say some random big word to make themselves sound bigger. It was a little funny thing that we did. It was a fun time there in Fargo….But, there wasn’t a whole lot of chirping because mainly the whole team did that kind of stuff. In the future years, yeah, at St. Cloud a couple guys looked up those videos and gave me some grief last year when I was a rookie.”
Your dad was a St. Cloud guy, you’re at St. Cloud, but your brother is going to Minnesota. When he was picked a few spots ahead of you at the draft last month, did that give him some bragging rights?
“He would like think so. But, actually, we went and played golf yesterday and I smoked him pretty bad. So, I can say I have some bragging rights for now.”
What are your expectations coming into Development Camp and are you nervous at all?
“Yeah, I guess. You’re always going to be nervous the first time you do something like that, but it should be a fun time and a learning period. I’m expecting it to be high-paced. Kevin and Nic, said we’d be just going and going. They said it’s a fun time too – there’s a couple different things that they do off-ice, and on ice, that are different from what we do at St. Cloud. It should be a good time. They said the first time you go it’s a lot of fun and everything new to you. So, I’m looking for a fun time and a time to train…I’ve never been to California before though. I’ve been to Colorado, that is the farthest I’ve traveled. So, I’m very excited about coming. I’m expecting 75 and sunny beaches.”
You spell your name without an ‘H’ in there. Are you one of those guys who gets pretty frustrated when people mess that up?
“Yeah, probably. There’s an ‘H’ in Jonathan, but the way I spell Jonny, normally people get that wrong. When they spell it Johnny, with an ‘H’ in there, it can be pretty frustrating. I remember when I played high school golf, my golf coach put “Johnny” on my golf bag. I have to have that bag for the rest of my life with the wrong name on it!”
Which current or former NHL player do you admire most?
“Probably Steven Stamkos. I’ve always grown up watching him and how he can shoot the puck and control the pace of the game. I’d say that’s the guy that I pattern my game off of.”
You were cut pretty bad with a skate blade earlier this season. Scarier to think about now or at the time it happened?
“I really didn’t know what happened right away, it was kind of fast. I was coming into the zone on a back check and the guy cut across the middle to take a slap shot. He got tripped up or somebody hit him and his leg completely swung around backwards and clipped me in the side of the head. I just went down, I really didn’t know what happened. I held my ear because that’s where it hit and I had blood all over my glove. I skated back to the bench and our guys were like ‘Yeah, it’s pretty bad.” Coach was like, “Brodzinski I need you next shift. We need you back out there.’ Our trainer actually butterfly stitched it and I was back out there next shift. He didn’t know how bad it was at the time though. He called my parents after the game and said it was just going to be two or three stitches, but it ended up being 17 stitches. It went all the way through my ear, so my ear was in half. It was a pretty scary moment, but luckily it didn’t hit the artery or anything like that.”
We’ll have several more preview articles throughout the today – including conversations with forward Tyler Toffoli, defenseman Nick Ebert and goaltender JF Berube.
In the meantime, here’s a list of the full Development Camp roster and schedule.