Random Thoughts: Vincent Desharnais, Philip Broberg, and our pre-season planning sessions

Edmonton Oilers Vincent Desharnais
Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
We’re working our way toward the start of the NHL season, which means the perfect time to drop another edition of Random Thoughts to clear my mind of all its delicious contents and fish for your help in making sense of all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, I’m looking at year two of Vincent Desharnais, what to expect from Philip Broberg, and I also offered my official points prediction for Connor Brown’s first year in Edmonton.


If there’s one thing I love about sports, it’s a solid underdog story. And when you think about Vincent Desharnais — a 7th round pick from 2016 — it’s hard to not cheer for the guy to keep this ride going. Still a project to be sure, Desharnais’ game is far from perfect but the thing I like most about him is that he provides the Oilers with a different flavour of defender than anyone else in the lineup. Gigantic and willing to use his size, Desharnais has the potential to be a force on the back end and I’m very eager to see how/if he’s been able to improve some of his skills over the summer. Based on the interview he gave with Tony Marinaro on The Sick Podcast over the weekend, one of the easiest things we can ever do is buy into the work he’s put in over the summer, and that has me excited to see if he’s been able to take a step forward on the ice. To put it lightly, the Oilers will need Desharnais to give them effective minutes and if any he’s done this summer can help raise the tide of what those minutes look like then I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say there will be a lot more Vinny fans around Oil country.


Listen, I don’t want to be the guy who puts any more pressure on Philip Broberg than he’s probably already feeling, but this is going to be a huge year for him one way or another. For a sizeable chunk of Oilers fans, we’ve reached a make-or-break point for the 8th overall pick from 2019, meaning that we’ll need to see some real progress this year or he could end up on the fanbase’s trade bait board. Is it fair? Debatable. Is it the unfortunate reality of his situation? Probably. From my side of the computer screen, I don’t want to start some kind of panic about this whole situation but I also feel like I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit concerned about where we’re at these days. That said, I’ve got high hopes for the kid and truly expect him to take a step forward in 2023-24. Dare to dream?


One of the questions that has been on all of our minds since July 1st is what to expect from Connor Brown in his first year as an Edmonton Oiler, especially when you consider that he’s coming back from a pretty horrific injury that kept him out for all of last season. A skilled forward to be sure, Brown unquestionably has the skill to contribute in the Oilers’ top six, but what I don’t know right now, is how much we should be expecting him to do that. With a career-high of 43 points — he put up 16 goals and 27 assists with the Ottawa Senators back in 2019-20 — it’s not like it would be fair to expect him to put up a 70-point campaign, but if he’s playing with McDavid or Draisaitl for most of the season, would it really be outrageous to assume he’s in line for a healthy lift? I don’t think so. That’s why my official pre-season prediction for Connor Brown is that he’ll score 25 goals and 40 assists for his first ever 65-point season at the NHL level.


Currently, I’m writing this from our room at the Overlander Lodge down in Jasper, and I have to say that this is a pretty surreal location to be doing our pre-season planning. When Jay first told us that we’d be coming down here for our annual planning meetings, I really wasn’t sure what to expect but the fine folks at the Overlander Lodge have turned this two-day summit into an incredible experience for all of us. Even though I won’t bore you with the details about things like traffic goals, article outputs, etc. — I will say that we’re going to have a TONNE of content coming for you this season — I did want to take a minute to thank the staff at the Overlander Lodge for helping turn what are normally incredibly boring meetings into a much more enjoyable experience. If you’re looking to get away for a weekend and maybe unplug for a bit, you’ve gotta check this place out.


Just because the Oilers aren’t giving us much in the way of news doesn’t mean I don’t still have plenty of useless information to talk about. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you get podcasts. New episodes coming up later this afternoon.

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