Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report: Setting the record straight on Philip Broberg

Photo credit:Bakersfield Condors
Bruce Curlock
4 months ago
The last few weeks, I’ve watched narratives about Philip Broberg fly around social media by fans and professional media alike. To be candid, I’m sort of finished with the nonsense. Since Oilersnation is kind enough to let me write each week on prospects, this week, we are going to spend time on the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
Philip Broberg’s career arc is the very definition of poor prospect development. With the Oilers having minimal draft picks and a tight salary cap situation, these players are incredibly important to get right. In Broberg’s case, a lot has gone wrong. This week, we review Broberg’s journey in hopes of learning how to remedy the situation, not just for him, but for all Oiler prospects.
This is the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Review.

What I Saw This Week?

Philip Broberg

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way immediately. I was not on board with the Broberg pick. When the Oilers draft slot arrived, I wanted Matthew Boldy and said so on social media before the pick. I saw Broberg as a very good defensive prospect who would need years to develop as a 3/4 shutdown defender.
The second thing I want to say is that it does not matter a lick for his development as a successful player for the Oilers that he was drafted eighth overall and other players that could have been taken have passed him by. That matters in evaluating the scouting staff, the player development group and the general manager. The head scout has already been fired, so we have one answer about what Jeff Jackson thinks about the Oiler drafting history.
However, his draft rank doesn’t matter as it relates to the process of developing Philip Broberg as an NHL defenseman. The cost is sunk, and worrying about that element is a waste of energy. In addition, it isn’t great for your own well-being if every time he makes a mistake, you colour your views with him being the eighth overall pick. A mistake is a mistake, and young defencemen will absolutely break your heart in terms of their development.

Where Do We Start?

Well, let’s start with a bit of context. This prospect suffered two serious injuries during his development time with the Oilers. There is no question both of those have impeded his development. I remain fairly convinced that he also has been banged up at the start of each of the last two seasons. Injuries for your players are tough. They interrupt the development journey. The player has to focus on something other than what plan has been laid out for him to be an NHLer.
The second piece of context I want to mention is the organization’s desire to have him play right-side defence. It doesn’t mean he’s done it exclusively. In fact, it remains a minority of his time on ice with the Oilers. That said, instead of asking veteran defencemen like Brett Kulak or Darnell Nurse to flip sides, Philip Broberg was asked to do so at the age of 21. While he played his right side in Sweden, he never played it in a minor way in the AHL on North American ice. It is not easy to adjust to playing your weak side on small ice after growing up on the large ice.
So, what have we seen from Philip Broberg in the last 3 years with the Edmonton Oilers? Well, here are all of his partners above 50 minutes on ice at 5v5 since the 21/22 season via Natural Stat Trick.
WithTOI WithCF% WithBroberg CF% WithoutCF% Without BrobergSF% WithBroberg SF% WithoutSF% Without BrobergGF% WithBroberg GF% WithoutGF% Without BrobergxGF% WithBroberg xGF% WithoutxGF% Without Broberg
Evan Bouchard380.5158.3151.8256.356.8851.3254.9752.3842.8654.6760.0249.6559.02
Cody Ceci118.0355.6755.9654.0449.5355.8852.1433.335248.8147.0857.0956.02
Brett Kulak92.5851.2756.2352.1350.5155.4953.2654.5551.7952.1752.7857.554.96
Tyson Barrie84.885055.9152.2355.7953.6552.4442.8650.8559.0249.955.5154.65
Vincent Desharnais55.7251.6157.6451.0950.9458.7755.666.6748.5766.6757.0259.9155.18
Darnell Nurse50.549.4155.6155.3356.8654.8654.015049.3253.6451.1456.1355.95
Are these mind blowing numbers? Some of them are darn good. It is particularly stunning that he and Evan Bouchard had a very formidable partnership. He also performed very well with vet Brett Kulak in a lefty lefty pairing. No question some of the numbers were average and a couple of them were underwhelming. Here is the thing though: these numbers are really good for a 3rd pairing young defenseman under an entry-level contract on a cap team.
Did he have some struggles to start this season? No question. However, most of the defencemen were struggling as well. So were the goalies. Oh, and so were the forwards. Take a look at his relative numbers to the other defencemen that have played this season.
PlayerCF% RelFF% RelSF% RelGF% RelxGF% Rel
Darnell Nurse-5.73-6.92-5.754.17-8.25
Evan Bouchard8.678.768.210.779.8
Cody Ceci-6.6-8-7.311.57-6.92
Mattias Ekholm10.089.968.222.716.57
Brett Kulak-4.96-2.38-2.89-8.33-1.63
Vincent Desharnais-1.720.04-1.18-3.511.47
Philip Broberg-9.21-9.54-5.251.59-5.93
Again, clearly he had some challenges this season, but his numbers were not horrible in some areas. Please remember that 40% of his time on ice this year was playing the right side with Brett Kulak, who was battling an injury in the early season.
Now, does this mean he should have stayed with the Oilers? Absolutely not. This team was a disaster. His supposed partner, Mattias Ekholm was clearly injured for all ten games that Broberg appeared in this season. So he played with another banged-up player in Brett Kulak on his wrong side. It made sense to send him down and let Vinny Desharnais play his proper side with Kulak. Especially when the former coaching staff was clearly in panic mode this season and stapled him to the bench every time he made a mistake.

What Has He Done Down On The Farm?

Broberg has really had a nice start to his Bakersfield season. He has gone 1-3-4 in 8 games and has added 21 shots on net. He is playing first pairing minutes with Phil Kemp and the two have played well. Kemp has actually registered 4 points in those same 8 games after having only one point in the first 11 games. Broberg is playing second powerplay minutes which I disagree with given his success running it previously on the first unit. He needs to be getting all the big minutes. Sorry Cam Dineen, but with the powerplay running at 14% there is ample reason for Broberg to take your spot. Broberg is, however, playing heavy minutes on the penalty kill.
What does his game look like? Well, it is quietly effective. Broberg will never be a player with attention drawn to him consistently. He uses his length, size and skating ability to break up most plays without much fanfare. Here is an example of what he does quietly. This is a very subtle play that he does all the time and it helps his team move out of their zone quickly.

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Here is another type of play that will not gain much notoriety, but it helps a team start the attack. Watch this great skating stride back to his zone and the ease with which he retrieves the puck and puts it on a teammates stick in space. Notice how forecheckers struggle when Broberg uses his body to puck protect. This combined with his reach make him tough to check.

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His willingness and ability to support his teammates offensively is also quite strong. Witness this video with the nice exit pass and then notice him sit down on the pinch in the offensive zone to hold possession for his team.

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What does he need to work on? Well it is little plays like in this clip.  After making a really nice play defending the attack, Broberg gets indecisive about how to handle a player in front of the net. Notice how uncertain he is on how to engage the player in front of him.

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Now he doesn’t have to be Chris Pronger here or anything, but making it known that this is his territory would have been a good idea. He needs to make it instantly painful for opposition players to enter into his space. In this case, while he wasn’t physical, it was more about his lack of decisiveness that caused the issue — something we have all seen previously. See the player enter the area. Take his stick or his body, but do it quick.
However, I am seeing some hopeful signs. Here is a really encouraging video clip.

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No doubt you are questioning whether I had too much rum and eggnog at the company Christmas party after watching this video. For certain, he didn’t get the man or the puck and that is defenceman school 101 stuff. However, he will get that sorted. What I liked is that he did not hesitate. He attacked the puck carrier, knowing he had middle-ice support. It was exactly the type of aggressive play, I want to see out of him. This play should be reviewed with him for the result, but there should be praise for his willingness to be decisive on a really good read of the situation by him.
Why do I want to invest so much time in this player? Watch this video and you’ll see why.

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Broberg skating is so fluid that he makes difficult plays seem easy. You just do not find that in rangy 6’3″ defencemen. His skating is NHL plus for defencemen without a doubt. He has some offense to his game and he can really suppress defense.

What Does It All Mean?

There is a good NHL player here. No question. Should he have been the eighth pick overall? No, I don’t think so. Should that remotely matter now? No, it should not in terms of the player and his development.
It’s a sunk cost. Stop focusing on it. It’ll just make you crazy when the game doesn’t go his way.
Be patient. Let him play until February and then re-evaluate. I hope he’s still with the Oilers organization after the trade deadline. I think it’s likely he isn’t here then. In that instance, you hope his play has intrigued another team so much they part with a goalie, a right defenceman and/or a right winger of some capability. All needs the Oilers must fill, but, of course, most of us new that last summer.
That’s all for this week. The holiday season is upon us so prospect notes are few and far between now, especially for an organization with a dearth of prospects. We will keep combing the video throughout the holidays to find nuggets on those prospects who are playing. See you next week.

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