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Oilers prospect Philip Broberg will work on his game in Sweden for another year

Philip Broberg poses for a portrait after being selected eighth overall by the Edmonton Oilers during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Philip Broberg poses for a portrait after being selected eighth overall by the Edmonton Oilers during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.

The Edmonton Oilers have told defenceman Philip BroA$berg they want him to stay in Sweden for another season in Skelleftea rather than come over and give the AHL farm team in Bakersfield a try.

The eighth overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft, who doesn’t turn 19 until June 25, was the sixth defenceman on his SHL team last season, averaging about 14 minutes a game. The teenager had eight points in 45 games, not much, but Oilers first pairing D Oscar Klefbom only had two points in 33 SHL games in Farjestads the season after Oilers took him with the 19th pick in 2011.

“Obviously when you take a player eighth in the draft and he’s a defenceman you want some offence, but Philip was an 18-year-old playing in a men’s league this season,” Oilers GM Ken Holland said.

“We feel he’s in a good place at Skelleftea, Philip was happy this year and we’d like to see him on more speciality teams next season. We’d like to have him come to our training camp this year to see what he looks like.

“And the last world juniors he was playing with (a Los Angeles Kings first-rounder, Tobias) Bjornfot in a defensive role. (Toronto first-rounder, Rasmus) Sandin and a few others were used on the power play and with the more offensive players. He wasn’t that guy then, but my hope is at the next world juniors (scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer over Christmas) he’ll be in that role if he earns it. And we’ll see him in our own back yard.”

The Oilers are deep in prospect defencemen so there is no rush on the left-shot BroA$berg.

Klefbom spent two seasons at Farjestads after he was drafted, missing most of the 2012-2013 season following shoulder surgery. He came to North America in 2013-2014 as a 20-year-old, played 48 games in Oklahoma City, and also got into 13 games with the Oilers. He was an NHL regular the next season.

“We built the program in Detroit where I was for a long time and our feeling was: ‘Just let these kids be.’ Very few young players made the Red Wings, the odd one like Dylan Larkin at 19. If you’re good enough, you’re good enough,” said Holland. “We want young players in an environment where they’re important. Certainly Philip wasn’t in that environment this past season where he was playing 18 to 22 minutes as a defenceman, on the power play or penalty-kill. But he still played 12 to 15 minutes. We’re hoping his role grows this upcoming season.

“Then he can come over to North America for the 2021-22 season and we’ll see if he can take somebody’s job. We’re not handing them out. Like all kids, they’re a work in progress.”

Holland feel Broberg is going to be a two-way, everyday NHL defenceman.

“In this industry we look at the amateur draft and we want defencemen who can provide offence and the minute we acquire their rights all of our thoughts are: ‘Can they defend, can they defend?’ Because if they can’t defend, they can’t provide enough offence to offset that,” said Holland.

“Like I said, at the last world juniors for Sweden Philip was on their No. 1 penalty-killing unit. When it was five-on-three against, a couple of times he was out there. He’s learning to defend.

“Would you rather have more offence from a defenceman and let’s teach him how to defend? Or if he knows how to defend, do you figure out a way to get more offence out of him? I would rather they know how to defend. It’s no different from forwards who score 50 goals in junior. If you can score goals, teams give you some leeway, but if you stop scoring and can’t check, you lose that leash. The games in the NHL aren’t 9-8, they’re 3-2 or 4-3. If a young defenceman can’t defend, it’s hard to put them on the ice. They get nervous and the other team gets scoring chances and the player starts to lose his confidence.”

See Schultz, Justin.

“How much offence is there with Philip? I don’t know. But at the end of the day, if you can have a 6-foot-3 guy who’s mobile, can skate and can make a good first pass to get us out of our zone and on the attack, you can play in the NHL a long time and be a really valuable player,” said Holland. “If you get the puck up ice, you’re going to get assists.”

“At the Swedish Elite League level, they’re teaching Broberg how to defend”

Maybe a Broberg comparable is Jay Bouwmeester.

“If you tell me in two years, Broberg can defend, can make a good first pass and eats up minutes, I would take that all day long,” said Holland. “If you said to me he could be like Jay Bouwmeester, you would take that. He plays 20 minutes a night. He’s played 17 years and over 1,000 games and once he got to St. Louis in the right spot he was a perfect partner for (Alex) Pietrangelo. He’s been an important part of a good team for a long time.

“We’re hoping Broberg can be a (NHL) player at 22 years of age. We hope he’s an impact player. To me that means top-four defenceman, No. 1 goalie, or one of the top seven or eight forwards. That’s what impact means to me,” Holland said.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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