Philip Broberg’s start to his career hasn’t exactly been ideal.
Drafted out of the SHL eighth overall in the 2019 draft, the decision to select the rangy rearguard was heavily criticized almost immediately. Some of it was just.
Guys like Trevor Zegras, Matt Boldy, Cole Caufield, and Alex Newhook — all drafted between ninth and 16th overall — are already stars in this league, or in places to become impactful players as soon as this week.
Broberg, meanwhile, just played his first season of pro hockey in North America last year. He played in 23 NHL games scoring a goal and three points, but his real opportunity came in the American League. With the Condors, he did his damage. He played in 31 games scoring four goals and 23 points playing a big role on the club.
He came into Oilers training camp last month with a spot on the opening roster to lose. He put on some size in a move that he needed to do, but what’s become clear is he hasn’t learned how to play with it. One of the best things about Broberg’s game has been his skating ability, but that looked hindered in the preseason this year.
Now, it appears despite being on the Oilers’ opening day roster, he’ll be flipped to the Condors for Markus Niemelainen — a big, bruising Finn whose puck skills are still questionable, at best.
There are two ways to look at this: on one side, the frustration about Broberg’s development is palpable, doubly so considering some of the names taken after him. While it’s far too soon to say what the future holds for the 21-year-old, him not earning a spot on the Oilers’ roster is a knock. Could he be a bust? I think it’s far too soon to say.
On the other side, it’s easy to look at this as a huge positive for the Oilers. You want players on your team to win spots and while it would be great for Broberg to be on the team, it means there’s someone better right now who the team feels can fill that spot. As mentioned yesterday, he’s going to have big opportunity now.
He’ll join the Condors and could easily play upwards of 25-minutes a night. Powerplay, penalty kill, the whole kit and caboodle. He’ll be an important piece. Broberg will have the chance to be looked to as a leader and he can better learn how to play with his newfound size.
I’m on the side that thinks this is a good thing for Broberg.
When I see Broberg, I see a guy reminiscent of Oscar Klefbom. Edmonton drafted him 19th overall in 2011, but he didn’t join the Oilers on a full-time basis until the 2014-15 season. At his best, he played on the Oilers’ top pair and was one heckuva player. If Broberg could be a good second-pairing defenceman, that would be a win. Anything else, a cherry on top.
It’s worth noting while the incoming demotion may be dejecting to some, the organization remains high on him. This, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, who had this to say when addressing rumours of a Broberg-Jakub Chychrun trade:
I’m told the Oilers remain unwavering in their belief in Broberg. Though his preseason play was underwhelming, there are those within the organization who believe Broberg will be as good and possibly better than Chychrun. The timeline? As soon as the end of this season.
Let’s hope their estimations are correct.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]
THE SEASON LAUNCH PARTY
For the first time in three seasons, we’re throwing a Season Launch Party at SOHO and you’re all invited to join us! What’s going on? I’m glad you asked.
- Date: Saturday, October 15th, 2022
- When: 5:00pm
- Location: SOHO YEG (11454 Jasper Ave)
- What’s Included: Entry to the event, Swag Bag (complete with w-shirt, stickers, GCs), entry to the giveaways, after party with RIFF/RAFF
- How: GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!
As always, we will also be including a charity component with the event where a portion of all ticket sales will be donated directly to Sport Central to help with their mission of providing equipment and bicycles to children in need.