Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland joined Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now to talk about various things going on in the organization. The focus here though will be on two prospects, Philip Broberg and Dylan Holloway, and where they will be playing in 2022-23. I will break down the impact each can have on the Oilers and the plan if one were to spend some time in the American Hockey League (AHL) next season.
Broberg Almost a Certainty
Holland said that from the time Broberg spent with the Oilers last season, he was happy with what he saw out of the young defenceman for the most part, as Broberg ended up filling in on the second pair on a depleted backend in his first taste of the NHL. Not ideal, but he held his own and gave the Oilers a glimpse of what is to come.
Holland also said, “we’re giving Broberg every opportunity to make the team, and he’s going to have to play his way off the team rather than play his way onto the team.” The young Swede had a great season in Bakersfield of the AHL, not only offensively, but all over the ice as well. He has offensive talent but is a two-way defender that is very smooth on his skates. Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson were able to spend some time with him before both coaches got promoted, but will have a big impact on his transition to becoming a full-time NHLer.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Broberg will make the Oilers out of training camp, even if another one of the young defencemen that I discuss further down impresses. As for where he’ll be playing, I’m torn between whether he should start on the third pairing like Evan Bouchard did and prove he can handle the larger and more difficult workload, or be inserted immediately into the top-four. There are cases for both.
Brett Kulak and Tyson Barrie performed very well together last season, but Kulak can definitely handle top-four minutes with his defensive poise and great skating ability. That being said, it may be too much for Broberg to handle top-four minutes right off the bat. But if he were to, then Cody Ceci would have to drop down and give the second pairing a veteran presence. The other way sees Darnell Nurse and Ceci remain as the top pair while Bouchard finishes coming into his own on the second pair. Kulak would give Bouchard the big boost he also gave Barrie on the second pair last season. This leaves Broberg to be paired with Barrie, which is concerning defensively even though it looks nice offensively.
There is always preseason and the beginning of the season to figure things like that out and to judge the chemistry players have with each other in a new season.
Holloway Has a Real Shot
Holland explained that “he (Holloway) will be in Edmonton if he is in the lineup every night. I don’t want him to be the 13th or 14th forward. In my mind Dylan Holloway is fighting for one of 12 spots.” Holland went on to say that if Woodcroft wants Holloway in the opening night lineup, that’s where he’ll be. If not, then the young forward can get lots of playing time in the AHL until the team is ready to call him up to play every night.
There are a lot of players on the Oilers who could potentially take away Holloway’s roster spot. Holland mentioned Warren Foegele as a left wing option in the bottom-six and Mattias Janmark who will be there as well at centre or wing. Either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Ryan McLeod will be at centre on the third line which would move the other over to the left wing. Evander Kane and Zach Hyman can play both wings, so one of them will likely be on the left side every night taking up a full-time roster spot.
With the speed and size Holloway brings, he could be a nice cheap option for the Oilers, especially if he can add some scoring to the bottom six. There is still a possibility that Foegele gets dealt too, as he will be making $2.75 million on the fourth line for the next two seasons. The team also still needs to get McLeod signed as he is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights yet.
At this point, it may be realistic to think Holloway won’t spend all 82 games with the Oilers next season. I could see him starting the season on the team, then going to the AHL like McLeod and eventually making his return better than the last time the Oilers saw him. He will earn playing time in Edmonton at some point next season, and be in the lineup for the playoffs while continuing to be a key piece for the future.
Which Other Oilers Prospects Are Close?
Holland has built up a strong farm system that is underrated. To go along with some high-end talent up front, the Oilers have three defencemen who should be pushing for a spot in the NHL in the next few years in some regard. Those players being Markus Niemelainen, Vincent Desharnais, and Dmitri Samorukov. As Holland says, “they’re ready to push and force their way onto the team.”
All of them are between the ages of 23-26, Samorukov being the youngest and Desharnais the oldest. But defencemen do take longer to develop in most cases, and the Oilers won’t need them to be stars. All they need them to do is play to their strengths and create internal competition (from “Tragic Choice: Edmonton Oilers fans should prepare for a new kind of pain”, Edmonton Journal, 8/5/22).
Seeing as Stauffer and Holland discussed Broberg and Holloway and didn’t mention any other forwards that could be in the mix for a spot, you can make the assumption that Holloway is the only forward prospect with a real shot to make the Oilers out of training camp. We should be having this same conversation about Carter Savoie, Tyler Tullio, and Raphael Lavoie soon enough, but the Oilers are in good hands with the talent coming.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
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