Holland Should Dangle Valuable Prospect In NHL Deadline Trade

If Ken Holland isn’t willing to move a first-round draft pick for help at this year’s NHL trade deadline, but he also doesn’t want to mortgage the future for a rental, perhaps it’s time he considers trading a highly-valued prospect that the team didn’t want to move in the past, but now might be able to afford to.

With the progression of Markus Niemelainen and the feeling that he’s found a home on the Oilers roster because of the physical element he brings, fellow blueliner Philip Broberg might be expendable. This is not to say the Oilers shouldn’t value what Broberg could eventually become, only that there’s an argument to be made he’s not the untouchable prospect he once was.

Broberg’s Value to the Oilers Has Changed

Still young, Broberg has the potential to be something special. That said, he’s arguably no longer the valued prospect Edmonton was holding out hope could be a future top-two star on this roster. There’s still plenty of time for him to develop, but with names like Niemelainen and even William Lagesson surpassing him on the Oilers depth chart this season, Broberg was sent back down to the AHL this week to get more reps.

Around the NHL, Broberg might be an interesting option for teams looking at a player who could grow into a key part of their long-term future. He’s got mountains of potential, but some concerning injury issues and his inability to stick with the big club this year suggest he’s the least ready of the Oilers blueliners to take regular NHL action this season. At the very least, he’s a project. For the Oilers, the window to win is shrinking and he may or may not fit into their timeline to compete.

Broberg Could Fetch Something of Value

Not a throw-in piece of any rental trade, the Oilers should be cautious about approaching the idea of moving Broberg. Only if they get something they truly need or covet should this idea be considered. Perhaps the Oilers will overvalue him because they drafted him, have seen him, and invested time into him, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s not expendable in terms of just tossing him out simply to make room or for a short run in one single playoff push.

Related: Oilers’ 3 Most Disappointing Players Through First Half of 2021-22

That said, the Oilers could use him as part of a piece to acquire a goaltender they need and can potentially extend. Maybe they use Broberg to trade for Jake DeBrusk, if, and only if, the Oilers can talk to DeBrusk and figure out the terms of a long-term deal and avoid his expensive qualifying offer. If Edmonton can use Broberg as a part of a bigger package (while shedding another salary) to obtain a reliable defenseman with term still on his deal, it might be worth a look.

Philip Broberg Oilers Draft
Philip Broberg, Edmonton Oilers, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

At the very least, it might serve Holland well to see just how other teams view the defenseman and if he’s worth anything to another club.

The DownSide of Moving Broberg

Moving Broberg does come with risk. He’s going to be under team control for some time and his cap hit will be manageable at a time the Oilers could use value contracts. If he’s able to make the jump to the NHL in the next two or three seasons, he’s a good addition to a club that has money tied up in other places.

The other concern is that he grows into a strong and reliable defenseman, but does so for another team. That’s never a good look and the idea that Holland simply grew impatient or felt panicked into making a deal after years of not wanting to move Broberg isn’t the way winning organizations operate.

Make a few calls and see what Broberg is worth. If he’s not going to fetch much, Holland can put the idea in his back pocket and continue to work on developing the player. If Broberg has value, it might be worth finding out what that value is.