For a week leading up to the draft everyone in the world and their grandmother, were linking the Oilers to Philip Broberg. It was so obvious that I couldn’t believe it, I wasn’t buying in, and I called it a smoke screen. Now I sit here in the second row of the media risers in Vancouver looking like a fool.
McKeen’s Hockey had Broberg 9th in their final rankings, one of the highest I’ve seen, and this what they had to say about him.
“While not strictly an offensive defenseman, Broberg is an incredible skater, who can pick up the puck in his own zone and be buzzing behind the opposing net in a flash. He gets to his top speed within two or three steps and take long, powerful strides to maintain his elite pace. While he is most often found skating in straight lines, he has the agility and edges to mix things up.”
The interesting thing about this pick is that you can spin it a number of different ways depending on the narrative you are taking. Here’s a look at every angle of the Oilers decision to take Broberg 8th overall.
This kid can absolutely fly. All you have to do is watch two or three minutes of his highlights and you can see that he is an elite skater. In today’s NHL game a defenseman who can skate the puck out of trouble and up the ice is worth his weight in gold. He has all of the physical tools to become an excellent defenseman; he will need the mental side of his game to catch up.
“When carrying the puck, he instantly puts defenders back on their heels with his sheer ability to eat the ice. We get the sense that he doesn’t lead the rush as often as he could and that over time, he will get a better read on when he can and should take chances. He manages the puck smartly in his own zone and is known to make smart passes to break the puck out of his defensive zone.”
The Oilers future on the blueline looks as good as it has in as long as I can remember. With Broberg joining Evan Bouchard and Dmitri Samorukov the Oilers have three teenagers who project to be, at worst, top four d-men.
After asking around a little bit, I’m confident in saying the Oilers see Broberg and Bouchard as 1A and 1B on the top of their prospect list.
In addition to the “big three” on the backend, the Oilers also have Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and William Lagesson developing nicely. Joel Persson will be coming to North America this season but I have no idea what to expect.
On top of all the prospects, Klefbom is only 25-years old and Darnell Nurse is 24.
By 2021-2022 the Oilers blueline should feature Nurse, Klefbom, Bouchard, Samorukov and Broberg. Or Nurse could be traded by July 1st, who the hell knows.
I guess the bad could better be described as a mystery. I chatted with a few scouts after the Oilers pick yesterday and the best way to sum up their reaction is to say the scouting community thinks it was a mistake to draft him 8th overall.
One scout told me he plays the game with blinders meaning his on-ice vision has not yet developed. The first thing I thought of was a young Darnell Nurse who, even early in his NHL career, could skate the puck up the ice anytime he wanted but didn’t really know what to do with it after that. Nurse’s game has come a long way in that aspect so I don’t think it’s unfair to think Broberg can’t develop the same way.
The reaction to the Broberg pick was negative but I have seen the selection starting to grow on a few folks.
The problem the Oilers will have in the future is if Broberg doesn’t pan out it will be very easy for everyone to point to Trevor Zegras going to the Ducks with the very next selection. Zegras was by far the consensus best player available at the time the Oilers selected the Swedish defenseman. I know many of you wanted to see the Oilers take Caufield but he ended up sliding to the Habs at 15, Zegras being the very next pick will be the player we keep tabs on for the next five to ten years.
From 2009 to 2017 there were five Swedish defensemen selected in the top ten. Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Adam Larsson, Jonas Brodin and Hampus Lindholm. I don’t think you can say that any of those players didn’t live up to expectations. If Broberg can become as good as any one of those defencemen this will be a good pick for the Oilers. In 2018 Rasmus Dahlin went first overall and looks amazing while Adam Boqvist was selected 8th overall by Chicago and appears to be trending in the right direction. A Swedish defenseman in the top ten usually works out just fine.
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