This in from Tomas Zahorak of Dobber Hockey, his take on Edmonton Oilers prospect Philip Broberg: “If I had to describe Broberg’s season, I would say that it has been kind of mediocre. … If we take a closer look at Broberg’s performance throughout the season, we will notice that a lot has changed since he came back from World Juniors. His average ice time dropped from 19:03 to 14:53, and as a result, he has been averaging around a minute less on both power play and penalty kill. Broberg’s contributions to the team have not been the same, mainly on the back end… Broberg is a player that has not entirely fulfilled my expectations so far. I think that he could be more active in the offensive zone but mainly better defensively. When he is on the ice for a penalty kill or just ordinarily defending, I sometimes find myself thinking, ‘Do not blow this!’. Maybe I am too harsh now, but steadiness, reliability, and composure have not been his greatest assets.”
1. What do we know about the development of young defencemen? That they’re up and down, that it takes time, that one minute they look like the next Victor Hedman, the net minute they look like the second coming of Mark Fayne. For example, this year with Ethan Bear we witnessed him struggling mightily until recently. But in the past three games he and Kris Russell have given up near zilch in their own end, with Bear not making mistakes on Grade A chances at even strength, this after leaking them earlier in the season. He’s healthy now and he’s bringing his best game again.
2. I have only seen one of Broberg’s Skelleftea games since he returned to Sweden from the World Jr. championship, after having seen him numerous times in the fall. He played OK in the one game, but made a nasty turnover that ended up in his team’s net. Zahorak is suggesting here that this kind of negative occurrence has been all too common recently with the player.
3. I was greatly encouraged by Broberg’s play this fall in the Swedish Elite League. In early December, just before he left to play in the World Junior tournament, I reported: “He’s a 19-year-old playing against men, but he’s grasping just how far he can push things. The highest-end offensive skill and reads aren’t yet there for him to put up a lot of points, but he’s learning to dominate play by shutting down opposition attacks, moving fast with the puck and setting up the attack. He’s starting to rag the puck like he owns it, and he’s doing it in games against many of the best Swedish pros. Hot take of the day? There’s a bit of Serge Savard in Broberg’s game. High praise, yes, but I see elements of that same size, skating, rushing, defending. Like Savard, he lacks that very highest end shot and offensive game. Once you see it, you won’t be able to get it out of your mind… He certainly looks ready to make a big splash for Team Sweden in the coming World Junior championship in Edmonton.”
4. At the World Junior tournament, Broberg got injured. After the tournament his coach Joel Ronnmark said: “He played through pain.” A short time later, Oilers Ken Holland gave more detail, saying that Broberg played with a slight tear above the knee and had a partial shoulder separation in the medal round. “I liked it that he dug in. He was the captain. He wanted to play…,” Holland told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now. “We knew he was playing hurt. I like that trait. You can’t be 100 per cent all the time. You got to dig in.”
5. Could it be that Broberg has been a bit banged up in recent months in Sweden? It’s possible. Whatever the case, the plan is for him to play in Bakersfield once the SEL season wraps up. I look forward to seeing him then. And I’m still entirely bullish on the young prospect. I saw enough from him as a 19-year-old in Sweden to believe that the Oilers have got a good one here, perhaps a very good one.