During the 2021 World Junior Championships, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland announced that Philip Broberg would come to North America once his SHL season comes to a close. This has been the news Oiler fans had been waiting for the last two years – to see the highly touted prospect. Let’s dive into Broberg’s past seasons and look at what we can expect from him when he comes to North America.
Broberg was drafted eighth overall at the 2019 NHL Draft. Many fans were very frustrated with the pick, instead wanting the Oilers to draft an American forward such as Trevor Zegras or Cole Caufield. In his draft year, Broberg played in the HockeyAllsvenskan and put up 9 points in 41 games. Although that stat line is not very impressive, the fact that he was a 17-year-old playing against men has to be taken into account when evaluating his play. He also represented Sweden at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, racking up an impressive three goals in five games. That tournament was held in Edmonton, giving Oilers management an early glimpse at his potential.
Last year, Broberg decided against moving to Canada to play in the CHL and chose to take his talents to the SHL, the highest Swedish hockey tier. Despite playing on the bottom pairing for most of the year and getting 8 points in 45 games, scouts were impressed by Broberg’s development, noticing an improvement in his defensive play.
Broberg’s play in Sweden earned him a chance to play with the Oilers as they prepared for the COVID-19 shortened season to restart. Once at camp, Broberg impressed fans, media, and management with his dynamic play, leading head coach Dave Tippett to comment, “If you watch all the practices, he looks good out there. He doesn’t look out of place at all.” Broberg used his offensive awareness and accurate shot to impress the Oilers, including fellow Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom, who mentored Broberg during camp.
Broberg’s strong play resulted in him leaping up the Oilers depth chart and earning a spot on the roster for their only pre-playoff game. Although he didn’t get the chance to play a playoff game, Broberg earned a spot on the Oilers roster, which was extremely impressive and made a good impression on Oilers management.
World Junior Championships
So far in Broberg’s career, he has played in three World Junior Championship tournaments (WJC) – the record for most tournaments is four. Broberg started off playing as a 17-year-old on the bottom pairing and has worked himself up the lineup since then. Broberg played in the 2020 WJC on the second pairing for Team Sweden, being their go-to shutdown man by using his size and skating ability to knock opponents off pucks and transition the play out of the defensive zone. This year, Edmonton hosted the WJC, and Broberg was named captain of the Swedish team. He was expected to be relied on heavily in all situations, from power-play quarterback to being the leader of the penalty kill unit.
Broberg started off the tournament with a bang, getting three assists in the first game while impressing many people by using his speed to evade opponents and create high-quality scoring chances for his teammates. Unfortunately, Broberg got hurt in that game and had to sit out the following game against Austria. Broberg returned to the lineup for the next games against Russia and the USA, but it was evident that he was playing hurt. This led to outcries from Oiler fans, pleading with the Swedish coach to take him out of the game.
It was later confirmed that Broberg had been playing with a torn muscle in his knee and a partially separated shoulder. It was Broberg’s decision to play, and Holland liked the determination and leadership shown by the young defenceman, saying, “I liked it that he dug in. He was the captain. He wanted to play. We knew he was playing hurt. I like that trait. You can’t be 100 percent all the time. You got to dig in.” Although Broberg could not lead his team to a gold medal, his mental and physical toughness, skill, and dedication to the game were shown in spades throughout the tournament.
2021 has been a rollercoaster for Broberg. He was off to a great start at the beginning of the season, recording four points in his first two games. His production tailed off as the season went on. However, he was still a workhorse for his team, Skelleftea AIK, averaging over 19 minutes a game. Unfortunately, when Broberg sustained his injury at the WJC, he missed 10 games, and when he returned, he found himself lower on the depth chart. Broberg averaged 14 minutes a game and was taken off both special teams units. Broberg’s injury definitely had a significant impact on his play, and he will most likely need rehab in the offseason to return to the dominant player he was before.
What Can We Expect From Broberg?
Due to his play as of late, Broberg will likely be sent to the Oilers AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors. Broberg could help stabilize a Condors defence group that is still feeling the effects of having Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, and Keegan Lowe move on from the team. With the SHL season ending in mid to late April, Broberg could arrive just in time for the playoffs. A good goal for him would be to get .75 ppg and play a steady, reliable game to earn head coach Jay Woodcroft’s trust. In terms of next year, where Broberg plays will be decided by how well he does in training camp.
Although it’s unlikely Broberg cracks the Oilers blue line next year, there is a small chance he could earn a bottom-pairing role. However, playing another year in the AHL might give him the time he needs to develop properly. The Condors defensive coach, Dave Manson, has mentored many current Oiler defensemen and could be precisely what Broberg needs to elevate his game to the next level.