In this week’s report, we are going to get into the world of professional player development. Whether it is the roving development coach who works for the NHL team or the AHL coach assigned to work with the organization’s top professional prospects, every one of them approaches the development of a prospect by analyzing video.
It is often the basis of the interaction between the coach and the player. It is used to provide a feedback loop on performance and also as a means to assess areas where there is an opportunity for improvement and to emphasize parts of the game the player commands and how he is using it to create positive plays for himself and his team. This week we are going to dig into this world using the tape from, in my opinion, the best professional game of Philip Broberg’s career. The day in the life of a professional development coach in this week’s Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report.
What Did I See This Week?
The Bakersfield Condors have played a lot fewer games than all of its AHL counterparts this year. This week was no exception. The Condors, who were scheduled to play three games, only ended up playing one game. In this case, the cancellation of the two-weekend games was due to a facility issue this weekend in San Diego. That was disappointing for lots of reasons with the main one for me being the missed opportunity to watch the continued development of Philip Broberg. Broberg has slowly, but steadily made significant headway in his most recent demotion to Bakersfield. Going into the week, Broberg had played 14 games with the Condors racking up 1-5-6 as well as 38 shots on net. He was also a very efficient plus-six.
This week, however, there was very likely a material step change in Broberg’s game. He and his teammates took on the Abbotsford Canucks this week, and from my perspective, we saw what Philip Broberg could be as an NHL defenceman. He skated miles. He was suffocating in his own zone. He made strong contributions offensively. He touched every single part of the game including 5v5, powerplay, penalty kill, 6v5 and 3v3. He was brilliant in most elements of the game and not getting to see him play this weekend was a missed chance to carry that momentum forward. What was so impressive about his game? Let’s go to the video.
Broberg’s first shift was relatively benign. He was partnered most of the night with Phil Kemp and made a couple of nice exit passes to put his team on offence. In his second shift, we saw one of the elements of his game that is exciting. Watch Broberg activate up the weak, receive a pass, make a great pass and then cover miles in a great mid-lane attack, leading to a shot on net.
We move on to his fourth shift of the game where we again see the skating prowess of Broberg. The clip starts with Broberg surfing across in his zone to gather in an area chip-in by the Canucks. He then uses his skating and his length to create a great lane for an outlet pass to his forward group who are able to attack up the ice. The Canucks gain possession and dump it back in. Here, Broberg was less effective, failing to make a clearing pass on his first attempt and then being forced to an uncontrolled exit on the second. Broberg redeems himself on the third attack by the Canucks. Watch how he uses his body to shield the forechecker and make a deft little passing play to allow Phil Kemp to make an exit pass. The ability of Broberg to use his skating ability and body to both defy Canuck attacks and create offensive chances for his team was on full display in this clip.
The next shift of note was Broberg’s sixth shift of the game. In this case, Broberg is left to defend a 2v1 from the Canucks from center ice. He plays this so incredibly well. He stays in the middle of the two players. More importantly, watch him slow his momentum to match the speed of the attack. This causes him to end up being positioned exactly between the two players. When the puck carrier tries to create an angle by bringing the puck to the middle of the ice, he steps up to force the shot and gets a piece of it, deflecting it wide. This is textbook defending. The remainder of the shift is a great example of how Broberg’s length causes grief. Watch him subtly move the opposition player away from the net and then use his stick counter a pass to the slot. Then finally he steps into a lane intercepts the puck and calmly skates it to the opposition zone. This is high-quality work.
We skip ahead to Broberg’s 13th shift of the game, which is in the second period, where the Condors are on the penalty kill. This is probably part of the game where you want to see a little more from Broberg. Watch the whole shift first without comment.
Nothing in the shift that is very negative. He is very active with a great stop-start mentality to his game. He never loops and falls back to his post-side role immediately when the puck goes back up top. Once you see his stick length come into play with a nice defensive play pushing the puck off the corner. The puck eventually ends up out of the zone. The only quibble I have is that I would like Broberg to make life painful for players who want to get to the slot. The occasional tap, bump and/or slash to a player posting up net front. Making it harder for them to want to stay there. Again, nothing huge, but maybe show him some clips of his former partner, Vinny Desharnais and how he operates.
The very next shift for Broberg was a powerplay shift. With the absence of Cam Dineen, Philip Broberg has taken over the quarterback role of the first powerplay. In a very small sample size since Christmas, the powerplay is operating at a 25 percent efficiency. This is spades better than the season average of 17 percent. Now yes, we know Broberg is not going to get much, if any, powerplay time in Edmonton. However, any part of the game that forces Broberg to be creative offensively is one you want him involved in. It will help his passing skills and his reading of the game. In this case, Broberg makes a deft play to get the puck into a great one-time position for Lane Pederson and a goal. It was a quick decision and great execution.
The next shift we have is the goal against that Broberg is on for. I am showing this because it is a negative scoresheet play for Broberg. To be honest, I don’t care for the shift too much, but it is hard to pin a lot of blame on Broberg. He starts the shift nicely by creating a possession change net front in his zone. The next segment of the shift leading to a turnover by the Condors is fully on the forward group. Broberg delays waiting for a line change. He then brings the puck to the far side, allowing the Condors to have three players on the weak side. Broberg sends it over to his partner who moves it up the ice to the forward. The forward botches the pass and now the Condors are on defence. The only part of the shift I don’t like is Broberg not running over the pick play in front of him in the corner. He needed to blast through that player and get to the puck carrier in the corner. He was stationary and there may have been a chance to interrupt the pass back to the point. Likely not, but I still would like to see him be harder on that play. The play ends up with Broberg blocking a shot, but the puck bounces to a Canuck and it is a dash one. Would I love to see more from Broberg here? No question. Do I think it’s a shift of concern? Not really.
Shortly following this shift, the Condors end up on the penalty kill. In this case, the Condors do a nice job of killing the penalty. However, I want you to focus on the freeze frame with Broberg coming out of the corner. This is absolutely part of his game that needs to develop. He needs to make it much, much harder on the player who is trying to get to the net. You don’t have to put him on his ass, but you need to make his path harder and maybe more painful.
Now, we enter into the third period. The first two periods were really impressive. However, the third period was unreal for Broberg. He played a total of 9:17 in the third period and it was stunning. Here is the first shift of the third period with Broberg. Again, more of Broberg being involved in the attack using a weakside activation technique. He is such a great threat with his skating ability. He covers large distances in such a short time and his body makes it hard for defenders to attack him.
Shift #23 is my favourite shift of the night. Nothing spectacular happens, but it shows the absolute versatility of this player. This shift goes from 4v4 to 5v4 powerplay and then ends with a 5v5 component. Broberg handles all of it well. There are exactly three defencemen on the Oilers that have this type of skillset. Ekholm, Nurse and Bouchard. Not Ceci. Not. Kulak. Not Desharnais. Just watch the shift with a focus on how much distance he covers and how composed he is through this 110-second shift.
My favourite part of that shift is when he helps Ben Gleason (who gets circled in orange) with a quick little chip play and then skates 200 feet to get into position for a one-timer. This is high-quality work by Broberg.
He follows that shift with another strong one right after that. Again, he chases down a loose puck twice. Exits the zone. Then, he helps his team enter the offensive zone for another attack.
With Canucks up by two goals, Broberg starts to get paired with a more offensive defenceman in Ben Gleason. It pays almost immediate results. With this shift, we see Broberg’s confidence in the offensive zone. Again, nothing dynamic, but Broberg is very comfortable moving in the zone. He has good passing reads to get the puck to a teammate in a better spot. Finally, we see him activate on the weakside down to the net, allowing the Condor puck carrier two net-front options for his seam pass. The Condors get a great bounce and it results in a goal.
Broberg’s play, even those not resulting in goals, helped the Condors keep the pressure on. Watch this wonderful evasive maneuver off a defensive zone faceoff. Broberg gets the two forecheckers committing to the far side and then makes a great edge turn back against the grain. You can even see him peek to set the play up. He then comes back across the royal road with a great pass allowing the Condors to get on the attack and also get the goalie pull in place to add another attacker.
In his final shift of the third period, Broberg creates the play that leads to the tying goal. He doesn’t get an assist, but without his play, this game results in a 5-4 loss. No question. Watch him quickly retrieve the puck in the neutral zone and then make a very quick up to a Condor who has some space to operate inside the blue line. The Condors advance the puck down the wall leading to the great seam pass to Pederson for the tying goal.
This was a great team play, but it all started with a decisive quick-up by Philip Broberg to start the Condors attack.
Overtime was more of the same. Here is the first shift of the 3v3 period. You can just see his confidence in playing inside the offensive zone both with and without the puck. It’s not a dynamic skill that you see on the “play of the night” features, but it is composed and efficient. Broberg even had at least one chance that I highlight to maybe take the puck to the net.
In his final shift of the game, Broberg puts a cap on his great performance. He confidently attacks with the puck. He recovers well when he is checked. He ends the game with a nice chance to score the winner.
In the end, these were the numbers for Philip Broberg in this game.
– TOI – 26:09 (including 4:21 on the penalty kill and 2:20 on the powerplay)
– 30 shifts on the night
– Plus one including involvement in both goals to tie the game in the last 4 minutes
– One powerplay assist
– Shot share while Broberg was on this ice at 5v5 was 70 percent!
This to me, was Philip Broberg’s coming out game as a professional. Hopefully, he got to watch lots of this video. It should provide him great confidence about what type of player he can be on every shift. Now we wait until next week to see how Broberg responds to this spectacular effort.
That’s it for this week folks. Please leave your comments here or send me a note to @bcurlock on the X. Have a great week.