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Monday Mailbag – What’s a good year for Philip Broberg in 2023-24?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
7 months ago
Happy holiday Monday, Internet friends, and welcome to a fresh edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and break down all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re looking at the Sam Gagner rumours, Philip Broberg’s incoming season, the Heritage Classic, and much more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Apr 2, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner (89) celebrates a goal by center Leon Draisaitl (not pictured) in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
1) Gregg asks – Why is everyone talking about Sam Gagner coming back? Doesn’t fit on this team anymore.
Jason Gregor:
I’ve only seen people talk about a possible PTO. I see zero harm in that. He is coming off hip surgery. He feels better than he has in quite some time. Gagner is a very good person, the players and organization know him and if he was willing to start in the AHL, if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, then he could be depth when injuries arise. I see it more as organizational depth than the guaranteed perfect answer to what they need.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s mid-August. There’s always more talk than action so stuff gets repeated multiple times. Gagner is a terrific guy who I’ve always admired off the ice, but I’m not sure he’s a fit at this point either.
Liam Horrobin:
You can blame Luke Gazdic for that. Seriously though, Gagner could be a decent 13th forward for the Oilers. Also, Tyler mentioned this in an article last week, but they need veterans for the pre-season and Gagner would be a nice fit there. Plus, it’s Sam Gagner! We need him!!
Zach Laing:
Death, taxes, and Oilers fans clamouring for Sam Gagner to return. I, for one, am all in for it. He’s the perfect Devin Shore replacement in terms of a 13th body and hype man, and truth be told, I think Gagner would still have more to give than Shore did.
Baggedmilk:
Luke Gazdic mentioned Gagner’s name on his podcast and we’re all running with it because we love him as a person. I’ve been lucky enough to interview Gagner a couple of times and he’s always so nice to talk to that it makes it impossible not to cheer for him on the ice. Whether there’s a fit in Edmonton or not is a completely different story. I’d love to see him try and crack the squad, though.
Apr 8, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Philip Broberg (86) chases after the puck during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
2) Oilers fan in Van asks – IMO Philip Broberg needs to prove that he can play this year. He’s played the second fewest number of NHL games of anyone in the top 10 drafted in 2019, and that needs to change sooner than later. What would you deem a successful season for Broberg in 2023-24?
Jason Gregor:
He needs to play games. I’d rather he play 22 minutes a night in the AHL to start, then be the 7th D-man in Edmonton playing 8-9 minutes or being a healthy scratch. He is still young. I wouldn’t write him off yet.
Robin Brownlee:
More than anything, Broberg needs to show progress and push the issue of playing time by making strides toward becoming a regular in the line-up at some point this season. What others from the top 10 in his draft year have done doesn’t mean squat. Different players on different teams in different situations.
Liam Horrobin:
He needs to become a consistent NHLer. Last season, Vinny came in and made it difficult to take him out of the lineup. We haven’t seen that from Broberg yet. He needs to find that level because he is more than capable.
Zach Laing:
Being a regular in the lineup. I think he can do it, and last year he probably should’ve played more than he had. He’s in a very similar spot at this point in his career as Oscar Klefbom was at this point in his career. What’s plaguing him right now is that he’s a young defenceman still finding his way on a team that’s in a win-now mode.
Baggedmilk:
Needs to be an everyday player by the end of the season, or he’ll probably be a trade chip when the next GM rolls into town. Remember, we’re in Holland’s last season in Edmonton and the next guy probably won’t have the same level of loyalty.
3) Turner W. asks – So, I keep hearing all sorts of talk about the Oilers’ bottom six, and places/roles for everyone, but I never hear a peep about Drake Caggiula. I enjoyed him in his first stint in Oilers silks…what is everyone expecting this time? Where does he slot in?
Jason Gregor:
He is a depth player at this point and good depth player who when recalled won’t be overwhelmed and could help the team. If he was a centre I think he’d be the leader to be the 4th line C, but he’s a LW, and that is the deepest roster spot among Oilers forwards.
Robin Brownlee:
Health is the challenge with Caggiula. That herniated disc in his neck is a lot to come back from. He’s played in just 22 games over the past two seasons. Also has had concussion issues. It would be a nice story if he can come back and contribute in a meaningful way.
Liam Horrobin:
I think Caggulia spends more time in Bakersfield than in Edmonton. Unfortunately, since leaving Edmonton he hasn’t found much success. He did have a good year in the AHL last year, and I think that’s what the organization wants from him again. However, I do think we’ll see him play a handful of games for the Oilers.
Zach Laing:
At best, an everyday fourth-liner who plays physical and chips in a bit of offence here or there. At second best, a veteran presence for the AHL Bakersfield Condors. At worst, he struggles mightily and is just a body. I think we’re looking at something between the first two options. While he’s played in just 22 NHL games over the last two years, he scored 22 goals and 53 points in 65 AHL games last year. That’s nothing to scoff at.
Baggedmilk:
I think he’s going to get a handful of games in Edmonton, but the likely reason for the signing was to put him in Bakersfield and improve their chances of winning down there.
Apr 17, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings in game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place.
4) Trent asks – It’s the second full season with Jay Woodcroft behind the bench, and I’d like to ask everyone what they think he does well already and what you think he needs to improve on in 2023-24?
Jason Gregor:
He is very prepared and covers all the details. He only has 120 NHL games as a head coach but over a decade as an assistant. Being the head coach is a bit different and the more he coaches the better he will be in regards to small details. What can he improve on? Good question. Hard to answer when we aren’t privy to his meetings, but the Oilers have improved in many areas under him. If I had to pick one thing, it would be don’t fret or worry about things that don’t matter. I would run the lines in warmup or morning skate that I plan on playing that night. No need for cloak-and-dagger stuff.
Robin Brownlee:
He wins. He’s got a .683 points percentage. At the bottom line, what am I — with my .000 points percentage — or you going to tell Woodcroft he needs to improve? He’s a remarkably sharp guy. He’ll adjust and adapt his approach as needed. Deployment of players is always a source of debate, but again, what do I presume to know that he doesn’t?
Liam Horrobin:
He’s good at getting the best out of his players. Last season, every forward scored 10+ goals apart from Devin Shore. In terms of improvement, he needs to believe in guys more. Overplaying Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl isn’t a recipe for success.  Give players like Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway, and Warren Foegele an opportunity to prove themselves too.
Zach Laing:
His strength is being a player’s coach. From day one, you could tell the players bought into his messaging and I always think back to what Derek Ryan talked about two and a half months after Woodcroft stepped behind the bench. This ability — along with the fact he’s won the fourth most regular season and playoff games combined since the day he took over — show he is legit behind the bench. I think his biggest flaw is leaning a little too heavily on the top line and top pairing at moments of the game, but can you really blame him?
Baggedmilk:
I’m a big Woody guy. I love the way he communicates, I love how positive he is, and I love the way he never singles anyone out regardless of what happens on the ice. As Liam said, though, I’d like to see him spread the minutes out a little bit more to see what some of the younger guys can do and ease the minutes on the Dynamic Duo.
Edmonton Oilers 2023 Heritage Classic Jersey Mock Up by @LEBL4NC on Twitter
5) Anne asks – I’m coming for the Heritage Classic in October and it just so happens to be my first Oilers game and outdoor game. What do you think of Commonwealth Stadium as a venue for a hockey game? What can I expect?
Jason Gregor:
It is good for an outdoor game. The track around the field makes everyone a bit further away, but in October the weather should be great. There is lots of room and many concessions. Expect a lot of jacked up hockey fans. The energy should be great, especially with the weather not expected to be -23 like it was in 2003. Plan ahead for bathroom breaks. Don’t wait until the last moment or you might have to pull a Costanza, and that won’t end well.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s terrible, just like every football or baseball stadium that is re-purposed to host a hockey game. That’s also the charm and spectacle of it, although a lot of that has worn off with all the outdoor games that have been played around the league since the first one here. Take it in and enjoy it.
Liam Horrobin:
Honestly, I hate to do this but I don’t like outdoor games from an in-person perspective. It’s hard to see and the weather is unpredictable.
Zach Laing:
It’s going to be horrible viewing and likely cold given it’s October in Edmonton, but that’s going to be one heckuva experience.
Baggedmilk:
The worst part about this game, from my perspective, will be getting to and from the stadium. With that many people there, it’s going to be a nightmare, but I’m very much looking forward to the challenge. As for the game itself, don’t expect to see much regardless of where you’re sitting because you’re ultimately a lot farther away than you would be at Rogers Place. I went to the game in Winnipeg a few years back, and I’m expecting more of the same from this latest version.

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