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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Waiting Game

With all the moaning and groaning by some fans in the wake of Edmonton Oilers’ POHO and GM Ken Holland taking Swede Philip Broberg with the eighth overall selection at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, veteran columnist Terry Jones decided to pluck the low-hanging fruit.

“Let me see if I’ve got this right,” scribbled Jones. “The Edmonton Oilers hire the most experienced and successful general manager in the league at $5 million a year. And with the first pick of the Ken Holland era in Edmonton, the eighth selection overall, the Oilers long-suffering and venomous fan base was distressed . . .

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“The idiot went and picked a player ranked lower than eighth on many published lists and mock drafts?” Then, just to put even a finer point on the barb: “Credit Holland for the best quote of the draft,” added Jones. “The people who don’t watch the games seem to have all the answers today,” he said. The full column is here.

Jonesy was shooting fish in a barrel because, let’s face it, there were a number of over-the-top reactions to the selection of Broberg by people who know far less about the teenagers selected Friday and Saturday than do the scouting staffs of NHL teams, the Oilers included. Still, I can see why fans would at least question taking Broberg over, say, the likes of Trevor Zegras or Matthew Boldy with the pick. That’s fair game.

EASY BUTTONS TO PUSH

Jun 21, 2019; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Philip Broberg poses for a photo after being selected as the number eight overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Given busts like Nail Yakupov and what’s happening with Jesse Puljujarvi right now, framed in a dozen seasons of failure in the last 13 years, it doesn’t take much to push the buttons of some Oilers’ fans. Essentially saying, “keep quiet and stop complaining because Holland knows what he’s doing,” isn’t going to sell, even if that failure isn’t on him.

The reactions of the frazzled few — there simply is no pleasing them — in the comments section here and on other sites were hysterical, but questions about the selection are to be expected and are reasonable, especially with the Oilers having some depth of prospects at the position. Why Broberg?

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“I’m certainly aware we need forwards, but we need a good defence,” Holland said. “I think back to our team (in Detroit) in ’08 when we won the Cup. We had Lidstrom, we had (Brian) Rafalski, we had (Niklas) Kronwall, we had (Brad) Stuart. A really top notch top four. All mobile, they could skate, handle the puck, get back, pivot and get the puck snapped back up into our forwards hands.”

While there is no reasonable facsimile of Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall and Stuart with the Oilers now, point taken. Mobile puck-movers on the back end rather than plodding behemoths who can’t dish the rubber are the way to go, and Broberg projects as that. Fans around here have lamented a lack of that dimension for years. Even with some maybes in the pipeline, there is no such thing as having too much of it.

If a team is lucky enough to have a surplus of blueline talent — it’s wildly premature to suggest that’s the case with the Oilers — then you sort it out, decide who to keep and move the extra parts to acquire other players you need. As pressing as the lack of scoring up front is, and allowing that a forward like Zegras or Boldy might provide results sooner, building from the back end out is tried and true.

THE WAY I SEE IT

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The reality is, and this shouldn’t be a news flash, is that we don’t know how the selection of Broberg Friday is going to work out. Holland doesn’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know. Questions about the selection because it didn’t exactly line up with many mock drafts and projections are one thing. Declaring it a failure or a home run before the kids have even flown home for the summer is buffoonery. That should be obvious.

Does getting Raphael Lavoie from Halifax with the 38th selection when he was ranked much higher guarantee he’ll be something special? No. I think Lavoie might be a helluva pick, but I’m not going to write him into the line-up in pen any time soon because of where he was ranked going into the draft. If a particular scouting staff is confident enough in its list, consensus doesn’t matter the way it does to outsiders like you and me.

History tells us that what a young prospect like Broberg does after his draft day — and what the team does with him — is every bit as important as what he’s done leading up to it, especially with kids ranked single-digits apart at the top end of their draft class. Like it or not, that has to play out and we’re all of 48 hours into that process.

Previously by Robin Brownlee



  • Free Bird

    With so many highly hyped forwards coming out of the USNTDP this year, it should be no surprise that a few of them would be discounted by some NHL scouts. Too bad past Oiler regimes didn’t discount Sam Gagner, whose numbers were inflated by playing with Kane and Kostitsyn in juniors, nor discount Puljujarvi, whose numbers were inflated by playing with Aho in Karpat and a powerhouse Finnish team at the WJC.

    It’s hard to tell who carried whom at the USNTDP last season, but we’ll know the answer in a few years.

    • MrBung

      It shouldnt have had to even get to Holland. How many GMs and coaches has this wreck of a franchise burned through? How many top picks? Is this the worst team in the NHL and pro sports after the last 15 years?

    • Heschultzhescores

      Even McDavid is expendable. Has he won anything? Has he been close to winning anything? What I’m seeing lately in the NHL is that teams with the 10 plus million contracts, are not the teams winning the cup. I love McD, but those huge contracts dont allow for a great supporting cast. Ask Toronto. High end talent at mid range prices is the New way IMO. One man teams have never won, nothing has changed.

      • Oilers4477

        Might be one of the dumbest things I’ve read in a while! McDavid is not expendable our problem is and I don’t think it’s as bad now but we haven’t been able to draft well enough to have a constant flow of good young players on cheap contracts coming in to fill out the roster year after year

        • Heschultzhescores

          With McD and Drai’s contracts we will always be in cap difficulties. You dont need superstars to win the cup. Just solid in all positions and a hot goaltender.

  • Petey Summers

    It’s one thing to ask Oil Nation for 3-4 years worth of patience but it’s likely quite another thing to ask McD if he has the patience to wait this thing out while Holland slowly corrects it.

    • Beer

      I would suggest McD’s level of patience would be a lot less without Holland. Personally speaking, I am not aware of anything that McD has done or said to question his integrity as a cry baby quitter as it appears your suggesting.

      • Petey Summers

        @Beer

        Did any of Trouba, Drouin, Spezza, Allison, Pronger, St. Louis, Larmer, Primeau, Heatley, Peca, Yashin, Bure, Lindros, Coffey or Patty Roy whisper sweet nothings about wanting to be moved before the publicly demanded to be traded?

        • Petey Summers

          So no then, right. None of the above players divulged that they were about to demand a trade. Exactly as I suspected.

          What makes you think that McD would share such a volatile decision with you before going public?

        • Beer

          @Petey Sum..
          If I could reply to your last reply. I would point out as a example that after Roy was humiliated buy his coach. He went straight to the TV cameras and told the whole world that he would never play another game for Montreal.

        • Petey Summers

          Are you purposely missing the point that I have repeatedly laid out for you in detail? The reasons that players demand trades are completely irrelevant. The fact they ARE demanding trades is all that matters. Tell me you expected all or any of those players to demand trades before they went public. If you’re at all honest about this you will categorically state that, of course, nobody expects players to demand trades before they make a public announcement regarding their intentions.

          McD getting totally sick of the losing culture that exists in Edmonton is not out of realm of possibility whatsoever and we won’t know it’s happening until it hits the media. I expect it to be bigger than when Wayne was traded when it happens.

          The clock, it ticks. Holland better get a grasp on this a lot quicker than just drafting a D-man that might be NHL ready in three years.

          • Nor should he, not if it means taking shortcuts to rush things along at the expense of doing things they way he believes they must be done. Nothing good comes from trying to rush players or the process. I understand why fans don’t want to hear that given the history of failure here, but it makes it no less true.

          • Petey Summers

            Ohhhh, I concur. There are no quick fixes for teams as broken as the Oilers. That is so blatantly obvious to anybody without blinders on. Fans need to fasten their seatbelts as it’s going to be a rocky ride for a few years.

            Doesn’t help when the new G.M. tosses nuggets like this around though … “I’d like to think we’re talking playoffs in ’19-20 when you look at some of the young players on this team.”

          • Your comment history suggests you don’t concur.

            — “If there is one takeaway regarding Holland from this recent draft it’s that he has no sense of urgency regarding the latest Oiler rebuild.”
            — “McD getting totally sick of the losing culture that exists in Edmonton is not out of realm of possibility . . .”
            — “It’s one thing to ask Oil Nation for 3-4 years worth of patience but it’s likely quite another thing to ask McD if he has the patience to wait this thing out while Holland slowly corrects it.”
            — “Tomorrow never seems to arrive in Edmonton …”
            — “Still absolutely nothing as far as player moves yet. The jury is still out on Holland.”

            You want results now. And citing a quote about being hopeful about making the playoffs in 19-20 is a problem? Of course he’d like to think that. If he said “I think playoffs are a year or two away” you’d be citing that as a negative as well. You don’t concur with Holland’s approach, so why say you do?

            Beyond that, why are you rolling your IP address? In 17 comments over the last seven days you come up under eight different numbers.

          • TruthHurts98

            Fans have no choice but to be patient. I’m willing to bet anyone willing that the Oilers miss the playoffs this upcoming season. Holland is taking the 3-4 year rebuild approach and if he does it well the Oilers should be one heck of a team in 4 years. I don’t think fans are going to be that patient. Damn shame that PC, Burger Bob etc allowed the Reinhart and Hall trades along with the Lucic signing. That made Holland’s job nearly an impossible Everest to ascend. It’s still going to be rough this next couple of years with no playoffs. Cap Hell and unmovable players makes the process much slower. I shutter to think what happens if Broberg doesn’t pan out.

          • D83

            I like the broberg pick think the d is gonna be good for years to come. Wingers alot easier to acquire might take a bit of time but not as bad as people think just need consistansy between the pipes hopefully we can find that

          • Petey Summers

            You’re more than welcome to buy into what Holland is selling but that doesn’t mean I will. There isn’t one of my posts that you list there that isn’t full of truth regardless if it rankles you.

            It’s not me wanting results now or later that is of consequence here. It’s all & only about McD & whether he could stomach more of what appears to be a never-ending losing culture. That’s the gamble these Oilers take when drafting a Broberg ahead of a player like Zegras. That’s the point I’m making before you got distracted by what you obviously feel are my alarming intentions. Rolling IP’s is now a time tested way of securing oneself while on the net. It also allows the opportunity to rejoin chat conversations in the face of overzealous moderators.

            What is it with Oil Nation & their non acceptance of different points of view than what is the standard positive post nonsense that we so readily read on here?

          • CMG30

            The Oilers are a ways away from being cup contenders but they’re not that far off being a playoff team. Frankly, they could make it with no other changes except getting a stellar season between the pipes. That’s how they did it last time…

          • mcjesus take the wheel

            They could make the playoffs. There needs to be a few things go very right for it to happen but it’s possible they come in 4th in the Pacific. I’m personally not counting on all the stars to align but it could happen.

          • mikeoes

            Issue is Robin, Oilers were put in a very unique situation when they were gifted McDavid. Answer me these questions:
            1) what are odds Oilers will have another player like McDavid in next 20 or 30 years? 5% ? Is that too high? I think we’re lucky enough to have Gretz and now McD right?
            2) McD is already good enough player (most say best in world) so we don’t need to plan for him to be in his prime at 25-26 before we want to build a contender , would you agree?
            3) Oilers are extremely light on skilled forwards once you get past McD Drai amd nuuge, wound you agree?
            4) odds of Oilers fixing this forward depth in a meaningful way that will actually push us to playoff this offseason is very low based on our cap and fact that FA signings are usually not great deals. (odds are low, I doubt we’ll get another Chiasson this offseason Peter really lucked out with him)
            Agree?
            5) Drafting a forward (Zegras Brody etc..) typically is quicker to get results that impact am NHL team then defense, correct?
            6) we have way more depth currently on D then forward, right?

            Therefore, fans such as myself are upset with Broberg pick NOT because we don’t think he may turn out to be a good pick. We’re upset because McDavid isn’t getting any younger and we are Wasting a generational talent like him if we can’t figure our our forward major issue we saw last few years. And drafting Broberg won’t help that issue until McDavid is 26 or 27. We don’t want to wait that long….neither does McDavid. If we didn’t have McDavid and didnt wast 3 of 4 years already, I’d be totally fine with Broberg pick. McD is the reason this pick was not best choice. Simple as that!!!! *typed on phone excuse any spelling issues please 🙂

          • GK1980

            I don’t care who they draft this year. It won’t matter, even Hughes can’t change this franchise around over night. That’s a fact. This team is a disaster and will take years to recover. Sad reality folks.

  • MrBung

    I am interested in seeing what this team on the ice next season. Broberg factors into that zero. The biggest question this franchise has is how any seasons can McDavid miss the playoffs before he wants out. That is everything.

  • I never heard of him until like 10 days ago but i don’t think you can have to many quality dmen. I think we should all chill out and wait a couple of years and see what we have. Good dmen get good returns in trades. I think we had a good draft

  • madjam

    Instant gratification and a winning team wanted for this year . Not interested in being patient , etc .anymore with some of the elite talent we already have . That’s what new management and coaching should readily supply , not another long drawn out rebuild – which should not be necessary . The fans deserve better than last 12 years .

  • @S_2_H

    Thank you for stating the obvious Robin. You wouldn’t think such words need to be said, but alas the buffoonery has been on full display with so many people declaring this a bad pick already. I guess time travel has been invented and I just never heard about it. Lighten up people and let’s wait 4-5 years before declaring a draft pic good or bad please.

  • Oilerz4life

    The fact that the majority of this Oilers draft will be playing in KHL under MacT next season gives fans something to be concerned about.

    It may not have much to do with Holland but it is still very much “because Oilers”.

    The more things change, the more things stay the same.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    People have been blasting me and on twitter for my thoughts on the pick. And let me make one thing perfectly clear here. I DO NOT HATE BROBERG! I’d rather Edmonton have skipped him in favour of Zegras, Boldy, or Caufield, but I don’t hate the kid. I’ll support him throughout his time here.

    Ken is talking and planning 5 years down the road. That’s great. But what about Seattle? Sure we can get a FA or trade for a forward, but it’s likely that guy gets claimed by Seattle. Meaning in 2-3 years when Seattle is a thing, we’re plagued with the same issues then that we are today. He should’ve taken a forward, REGARDLESS.

  • Vanoil

    FIRST, if it was Holland making that pick MAYBE the fan base would be calmer, but it was the same Amateur Scouts that picked for the past five years in charge of this draft. SECOND given that Broberg is five years (or more under the Holland system) away from helping this team, that would mean there was nothing done here to move the needle for the period during McDavid’s tenure — that is what the fans are pissed about. Especially now that it seams that other teams are locking up their RFAs and Holland is unable to open up more salary cap space. It all spells more of the same. What good will having 21 D prospects mean if we have only a handful of hopefuls at the forward position … talk about shooting fish in a barrel. Not like The OIL can afford to hope people gift them players….

  • hags437

    The biggest wtf moment of the draft was Yzerman taking Seider at 6. But because Oiler fans enjoy walking around with a rock in their shoes they have to continue to dump on Holland for taking Broberg at 8. Writing the kid off at 17 years old because arm chair GM’s in Edmonton know better. Yeesh

  • GK1980

    Media is pretty happy with Holland. Me, I’m neutral. I think we have all learned not to trust by one in his position to soon. Wish him good luck but only time will tell. I’ll start on the slightly skeptical side for now.

  • Serious Gord

    Robin engaging in a bit of straw man I see.

    There were a few legitimate criticisms of holland picking Broberg at #8:

    1. The greater near term (read: while mcdavid is on this side of 26) need was on the wing and a winger far more often is ready for the big time earlier than any other position.

    2. That holland wanted Broberg was apparently no secret for at least a month. I think this very unwise – keeping ones options / preferences quiet is a necessity. Imagine if his mentor was a chatterbox about his interest in lidstrom datsyuk et al.

    3. I don’t think I saw a single draft ranking had Broberg as high as eight. Many had him far lower. How hard did holland try to trade down and still get Broberg? See point 2 how he may have made that impossible.

    See robin – no handwringing by all but a small number of the critics.

    One final point – being experienced seems to be the highest thing you value. Except for a very, very few professions (teaching, historian) experience is quite a ways down on the list of what one wants in a manager or sportswriter. Terry Jones is past it and so is Holland.

    PS – did any journo in EDM write about the fact that Detroit’s moving holland upstairs from GM to let Yzerman take the position was the SECOND time the owners tried to do it? Apparently the first time Holland refused and Yzerman left for Tampa.

  • CMG30

    By won anything I assume you mean Stanley cups because otherwise you’re flat out wrong. He’s already won more hardware (Like scoring titles) than most NHL players will ever dare dream of winning in a career.

    But if you are referring to cups then you should give your head a shake since cups are won by teams not players…

  • Goaltender Interference

    Not sure what to think about the later part of the draft… It’s all magic beans. At least nobody’s relative or family friend got drafted so that’s a step in the right direction.

    Lavoie was a gift. Sounds like the biggest knock against him was a perceived issue with work ethic. Let’s see what the chance to play with the hardest-working Captain (and best player) in the league does for that.

    As for Broberg – well I admit that I was part of the crowd hoping for wither Zegras or Cozens to be picked… That said it’s never a bad thing to stock up in high end defensive prospects. All these folks bashing the pick seem to forget what a team can do with a Pedigreed D-prospect that isn’t turning out… You find a sucker and fleece them – just like what happened with us and Reinhardt.

    You’d think folks would be happy – in the worst case scenario – to be on the winning side of that equation for once.

    And if Broberg turns out to be a top-2 D then bonus.

    Any winger that was drafted would still be a couple years away from contributing anyways. As it should be. I’m really not understanding why people have their jammies in a twist. It wasn’t my first choice, but Broberg will still turn out to be a solid pick.

  • RexHolez

    I personally don’t care who they drafted. I’m saving my anger for after another enivatable terrible season. This team sucks. The sooner Connor leaves the better