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Philip Broberg’s start to the season

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
5 months ago
The 2023-24 season feels like a make-or-break season for Philip Broberg. Is that harsh to say? Perhaps
The frustration isn’t necessarily with Broberg but that Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, and Matthew Boldy were all chosen after him in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Broberg is now 22 years old and has 73 NHL games. He’s played in all but one game to start the season, which was more of a strategic move than how he had been playing.
Through four games, Broberg has spent most of his time with Brett Kulak. Around here, Kulak is known as the “defensive partner whisper” after long, successful periods with Tyson Barrie and Vincent Descharnais. However, that isn’t the case in this circumstance. This partnership is forcing either defenceman to play on their off-side. They’re getting outscored 2 to 1 and have a shot against a total of 17 at 5-on-5, which is third behind Nurse/Ceci and Bouchard/Ekholm. However, those two other pairings have spent over double the time Broberg and Kulak have spent together.
There’s been a time throughout Broberg’s hockey life that he has played on his off-side, but that doesn’t make it comfortable for him in the NHL. You’re receiving pucks differently, you’re seeing the ice from a different vantage point, and you’re turning in unfamiliar ways. It’s a lot easier said than done.
Broberg has such little time spent with anyone else that it’s hard to see how he performs with a different partner. The next player he’s spent the most time with is Vincent Descharnais at 11:40, and the two of them didn’t allow a goal at 5-on-5. It’s a small sample size for now, but I’ll be curious to see how often Jay Woodcroft turns that pairing as the year continues.
Offensively, it is the subtle plays that make Broberg effective. While he hasn’t registered a point yet, there are moments that he is showing off his tool set. He’s skating more with the puck into dangerous areas and executing on opportunities. He’s becoming more confident with the puck, but there’s no doubt the numbers must also come with that.
Defensively, Broberg is going up against top competition and surviving. In game one versus Vancouver, Elias Petterson faced the most and allowed only one goal, which was an elite play from Petterson to find Garland in front. Additionally, he’s using his feet well to get ahead of plays and utilising his stick to his advantage. There’s still plenty to be worked on, like his awareness, but that will come.
The giveaways per 60 do not look good for Broberg right now. He leads the team with 2.62 giveaways per 60, with Darnell Nurse behind him with 2.58. There’s a big difference between the two, with Broberg averaging 11:28 at 5-on-5 and Nurse is playing almost seven more minutes than him.
The Oilers don’t have an elite defenceman on their hands. As much as we all wish that was the case with an 8th overall defenceman, it is not. Instead, they have a reliable two-way player with a promising future ahead of him. Broberg may have to wait for an unfortunate injury to happen for him to get an opportunity higher up the lineup, but he’s doing an excellent job proving that if the time comes, he can be relied upon.
This season is big for Broberg to prove himself to be an everyday NHLer. If he continues on the path he is on right now, he will be fine.

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