The 2019 NHL Draft marked newly hired Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland‘s first draft with the team in which he selected at eighth overall: first-round draft pick Philip Broberg. This pick was undoubtedly criticized, primarily because he passed up the opportunity to choose players Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield. Now, three years later, Holland is calling on the 21-year-old left-pairing defenceman to slot in the lineup to help fill the bottom-pairing with Duncan Keith retiring.
Broberg’s 2021–22 season performance
Broberg bounced between the AHL and NHL, playing 31 games with the Bakersfield Condors and 23 regular season games for the Oilers.
He was excellent in the AHL, potting four goals and posting 19 assists totalling 23 points while maintaining a plus-minus of 17. The 6’3” defenceman displayed his exceptional skating ability and speed when rushing the puck up the ice and breaking into the offensive zone, usually resulting in an opportunity on net.
While playing for the Oilers, he was more inconsistent but showed flashes of his speed and offensive ability making clean breakout rushes. He scored his first and only NHL goal against the San Jose Sharks, assisted by none other than Connor McDavid; he also put up two assists totalling three points. Broberg posted a plus-minus of -8 during this time, which gives a vague insight into his struggles on the puck’s defensive side, primarily handling players on the rush and breaking the cycle in the defensive zone.
Although the 2021–22 NHL numbers don’t blow you away, the simple fact that he is playing meaningful NHL games with the team and getting the experience is crucial in his development as a player. We are all looking forward to seeing how he shows in development camp and progresses throughout the rest of the season.
Key points heading into the 2022–23 season
Putting on the pounds
During an interview at the Oilers’ arena on Wednesday, Broberg stated that during his time back home in Sweden, he was able to focus on getting bigger and stronger, putting on 12 pounds over the offseason. He also said that he wants to focus on his defensive game and become a more reliable, consistent option; this is important as the Oilers already have an abundance of offensive talent on the back end, with players like Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie, to name a few. If he can step up his defensive game this year and help fill the monstrous hole still left by the Oscar Klefbom injury, it would significantly improve the team’s defensive strength moving forward.
Young Stars Classic tournament
Broberg is currently at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton along with the three other first-round picks: Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault, and Reid Schaefer. According to Oilers general manager Ken Holland, Broberg will get a regular spot unless he “plays his way off the team.” It will be interesting to see Broberg’s impact on the ice in Penticton. We all know he can skate, but with his added strength and size over the summer break, I feel it could improve his defensive game as he would be more suited to handle the bigger competition.
Although he most likely has a spot on the third pairing once the preseason begins, there will still be some pressure on him to succeed with the new addition of Ryan Murray and both Markus Niemeläinen and Dmitri Samorukov looking to snag his roster spot.
According to Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Broberg has been playing a lot on the right side during the informal skates in Edmonton. This ability gives Broberg an advantage over some of the other defencemen battling for a roster spot because he can play both sides, making him a more versatile player and giving head coach Jay Woodcroft more flexibility within his lineup.
Pressure is building
Are we putting too much pressure on the 21-year-old defenceman? Probably, but if he does manage to succeed and fill the crater left by Klefbom’s injury, some fans will have to eat the harsh words they said about the draft selection made in 2019.