Why is Edmonton Oilers defenceman Philip Broberg not playing?

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
8 months ago
Philip Broberg is a prospect that Edmonton Oilers fans have been anticipating for a while now.
This season has been an interesting year for him. Jay Woodcroft is putting him in the lineup much more often; however, he is not playing as often as Broberg would have liked.
Oilers fans have seen this before with Evan Bouchard back in the Canadian division season of 2020-21.  Bouchard spent the majority of that season sitting amongst the scratches playing in only 14 games. The decision to put him on the sideline rather than Bakersfield drove people crazy. Now, he is an everyday defencemen that plays on the best power play in NHL history.
Are the Oilers preparing Broberg in the same way? Ken Holland does have a history of being incredibly patient with young players. It is a great trait of Holland’s not to rush prospects, just take a look at Vincent Desharnais right now and also Raphael Lavoie, who is thriving in the AHL.
Broberg has not been in the lineup as much since the Oilers lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-5 on February 25th. Since that game, Broberg has played nine games and is averaging 9:01 a night.
So what has happened? I took a look back at how his game has changed over that time.
The most obvious change is the addition of Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators. Before Ekholm joined, Broberg slotted in on the third pairing most nights. There is no denying the impact Ekholm has had on the team and likely on Broberg with his veteran presence. However, it has for sure push the young Swedish defencemen out of the lineup.
Additionally, he is not doing enough to force his way into the lineup every night. His positive plays outweigh the negative; however, he seems to be struggling with consistency, especially with the puck. With the puck, Broberg is little threat to the opposition. His shot is struggling to find its way through traffic and does not have much weight behind it. Furthermore, he is not attacking with his feet enough when he has the puck.
His skating is a huge asset of his and you see it a lot off the puck when he is defending or finding space off the puck in the offensive zone. He will become a huge threat when he pieces the skating with the puck trait together. Broberg is limiting his talents with how simply he is playing the game with the puck. It is understandable but sometimes you have got to let the dog off the leash.
On the positive side, his one-on-one defending is great and shows potential every night. His defensive instincts are good which is something young defencemen do struggle with. Take Bouchard for example. He is quick to pucks consistently and his stick-on-puck defending is excellent for a rookie. He does a good job of utilizing his reach to defend when one-on-one and then also keeping opponents to the outside. There is a couple of times he gets caught out but, more often than not, Broberg gets the job done.
Should fans be worried about Broberg? The answer is not at all. Broberg’s play is not the issue of “why he is not playing every night,” but instead that the Oilers simply have a deep left side. With Darnell Nurse, Mattias Ekholm and Brett Kulak in the lineup, almost every young defencemen in the NHL would struggle to play their way back in.
Next season feels like the year Broberg takes the next step in his development. For now, patience is the key with him much like it was for Bouchard a couple of years ago.

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