Picking the right battle has helped blueliner Broberg develop into key piece for Sweden's world junior side

The future Edmonton Oilers blueline staple chose to develop against men. It’s a decision he thinks will pay off at the WJC.
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Sweden or North America? The question echoed in Philip Broberg’s head as he left the 2019 NHL draft in Vancouver to attend the Edmonton Oilers’ development camp this summer. One month prior to being picked eight overall, the lanky defenseman had signed a one-year deal with Skelleftea in the Swedish League. Ultimately, he opted to stay in Sweden rather than join the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, who hold his major junior rights.

“I think I made the right decision to stay here,” Broberg said. “Everyone has treated me very good, and I feel I’ve taken good steps in my development by playing against men in a good league like this.”

Besides evolving his game at the highest level in Sweden, Broberg was also looking forward to the world juniors. Last season, he surprised by earning a spot on the Swedish roster after Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Timothy Liljegren got hurt. Broberg saw limited ice time before his Swedes were upset by Switzerland in the quarterfinal.

This time, he will play a larger role. “Last year was a big learning experience for me,” Broberg said. “I obviously wanted to have an impact, but it was hard to do that being three years younger than most of the other players. I hope I can provide more this time. I think I’ve gotten better with some good experiences from the under-18 worlds and the SHL.”

While the smooth-skating defenseman is focused on honing his skills in Sweden, he also takes the time to check and see how the Oilers are doing in the NHL. He hopes to suit up in Edmonton in the not-too-distant future. “I’ll take this year and see where I am after that,” said Broberg, 18. “I want to develop my game so I can compete for a spot next year. If I’m not ready, I’ll take another season somewhere else.”

Outside of hockey, Broberg’s big passion is tennis. “I like to play against my friends and my girlfriend as often as I can in the summer,” he said. “It’s my big hobby, and I’d say I’m a pretty decent player.”

So who’s his favorite player? “I’m a big fan of Rafael Nadal,” Broberg said. “He’s always looking to win the point as fast as possible. I like that, and I try to do the same when I play.” – Uffe Bodin

SCOUTING REPORT

Sweden Needs to reset after a serious power outage last year that was only partially caused by a flu bug racing through the team.

The talent is there, especially on the back end where virtually all of last year’s skilled group returns, but this team will still have to prove itself after the flame-out against Switzerland in the 2019 quarterfinal. One factor will be the international ice, which coach Tomas Monten intends to use to his team’s advantage, especially if they end up playing one of the North American teams in the playoff round. The rink-size difference will give his squad more time to make plays, plus they’re more familiar with the bigger ice game.

Up front, Los Angeles Kings pick Samuel Fagemo returns, and he’ll be looking to improve on last year’s effort, when he registered just one assist in the tournament. Other forward returnees include centers Oskar Back (DAL) and Jacob Olofsson (MTL), but the real excitement will come with a pair of 2020 draft-eligibles: Alex Holtz and Lucas Raymond. ‘The Terror Twins’ led Sweden to its first gold at the world under-18s last year, and they work tremendously well together. Nils Hoglander, the Vancouver pick, has also been hot this season in the SHL.

On defense, the Swedes would love to get Adam Boqvist (CHI) and Rasmus Sandin (TOR) from the AHL, as both are national team veterans who make magic on the blueline. Philip Broberg (EDM) also returns from last year’s squad, as do Adam Ginning (PHI) and Nils Lundkvist (NYR). Victor Soderstrom (ARI) and Axel Andersson (BOS) are also strong contenders.

The Swedes have a couple of options in net, and while no one dominated at summer camp, Tampa Bay prospect Hugo Alnefelt has been lightning (pun intended) for HV71 in the SHL this season. If he can continue to ride that momentum into the Czech Republic, the Swedes will be a very tough out.– Ryan Kennedy

THN’s Odds for Gold: 6-1

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