Can Philip Broberg be The Edmonton Oilers Next Klefbom?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 03: Philip Broberg #86 of the Edmonton Oilers shoots against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on December 03, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 03: Philip Broberg #86 of the Edmonton Oilers shoots against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on December 03, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

With most of the roster that made it to the Western Conference Finals returning, it’s clear that the Edmonton Oilers window to compete for a Stanley Cup is wide open.

With that being said, there are still some question marks on defence, and that will be a fascinating story to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Edmonton has struggled defensively at even strength over the past few years, making just incremental improvements. In the last three seasons, they have finished 26th, 21st, and most recently, 19th in 5v5 goals against.

In the 2022 playoffs, the final four teams all had well under 3 GA/GP except the Edmonton Oilers, who allowed 3.69 GA/GP despite Mike Smith’s respectable .913 save percentage.

The Edmonton Oilers hope to improve on those numbers going forward via internal growth from young defenseman such as Evan Bouchard. The young Swede Philip Broberg will also start the season in a third pair role, and Brett Kulak will slide up to the second pair to replace Duncan Keith.

If the Edmonton Oilers are going to win a Stanley Cup, Broberg must be ready to succeed at the NHL level.

When trying to forecast Philip Broberg’s NHL career, I have often seen comparison’s made with Oscar Klefbom despite the comparison not making a ton of sense stylistically.

Broberg is an elite offensive defenseman who has some inconsistencies in his own zone. In contrast, Klefbom was a smart two-way D man that was less athletic than Broberg but more reliable defensively.

Still, both players have a lot of similarities going on; for instance, they Are both 6 foot 3 Swedish defensemen that can skate exceptionally well. They were also eased into the league through the Oilers organization and had their rookie AHL and NHL seasons at age 20.

Klefbom was able to develop into a fantastic player for the Edmonton Oilers, one that they sorely miss, so I’m going to compare Broberg and Klefbom’s numbers to this point in Broberg’s development to see how he stacks up with a young Klefbom.

If we can conclude that Broberg has developed at a comparable rate thus far, then perhaps it is fair to speculate that the Oilers have a future top-four defenseman on their hands.

In his first AHL season, Oscar Klefbom played 48 games and got 10 points for a rate of 0.21 P/GP. Unsurprisingly, the more offensively gifted Broberg produced much more with 23 points in 31 games for 0.74 P/GP.

What’s perhaps more impressive is that Broberg’s AHL production also trumps Evan Bouchard’s 0.67 P/GP in his rookie AHL season.

Looking at their NHL seasons at age 20, Klefbom played 17 games and had 3 points with his Corsi, expected goal, and scoring chance shares, all being between 41 and 45 percent.

Last year, Broberg had 3 points in 23 games with his expected goals percentage at 46.9%, scoring-chance share at 47.3% and Corsi for percentage at 52.4%.

The underlying numbers favour Broberg; however, we should bear in mind that Klefbom’s On-ice save percentage was incredibly low thanks to some ghastly goaltending from Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens, and this was a much weaker Oiler team than the one Broberg played on last year.

Still, these are strong numbers for Broberg. Unlike Klefbom, he will get to be put in a position to succeed on a good team where he can slowly make his way up the depth chart.

Klefbom’s numbers skyrocketed between ages 20 and 22, as he considerably improved all of the previously mentioned metrics in back-to-back years despite the Oilers still being a fairly weak team in 2015-16.

If Broberg’s metrics improve at a similar rate this season than Klefbom’s did between his aged 20 and 21 seasons, then Broberg could have a chance to play top-four minutes by the end of the season.

Much like Evan Bouchard, I think much of his success will hinge on his ability to improve his decision-making in his own zone at an NHL pace.

There is no guarantee that Philip Broberg will be able to develop into as reliable and as impactful of a player as Klefbom was, but it is interesting how the two countrymen’s careers have mirrored one another in terms of their path to the NHL, the timeframe it took them, and the organization they did it in.

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Broberg’s career continuing to mirror Klefbom’s would be huge for the Oilers, who desperately need Bouchard and Broberg to take a leap in order to continue their positive momentum as an organization.

I believe that the Oilers should have a few years minimum before their Stanley Cup window closes, but the dynamic duo’s supporting cast of Kane, Nugent-Hopkins, and Hyman are all not getting any younger, so the faster their prospects can develop into prominent NHL roles, the better.

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