The Ted Lindsay Award is a valuable item, partly because NHLPA members vote the winner. Nothing like your industry saying you’re the best. Wayne Gretzky won it five times when it was called the Lester Pearson Award, named after a substantial Canadian who did fine works with the UN, became Canada’s prime minister for a time, and handed out cabinet posts to men who would run our nation for decades after his passing. I don’t know much about Pearson, beyond my Dad telling me that he picked the right flag for Canada.
I know the award is important, and that an Oilers player has won it eight times. Five for 99, one for Mark Messier, and two in a row for the fastest man in history. He’s up for the Lindsay and the Hart tonight (McDavid won the MVP in 2017) and it should be a fun evening. The captain spoke about his injury and other things here.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Lowetide: Are these Jesse Puljujarvi’s final days with the Edmonton Oilers?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Analyzing the early Edmonton Oilers’ 2019-20 depth chart.
- New Jonathan Willis: 2018-19 NHL Awards: Finalists, projected winners and snubs
- New Lowetide: The Oilers’ conundrum in taking Philip Broberg with the No. 8 overall pick
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ranking the Oilers’ trade assets from the high-priced diamonds to those needing fresh starts
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Fixing the third and fourth lines while saving money and overhauling the penalty kill
- Jonathan Willis: How are the Oilers affected by early offseason trades and buyouts to Dion Phaneuf, Andrew MacDonald?
- Lowetide: Falling talent and other fun facts that could benefit the Oilers in the NHL Draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Evaluating the pros and cons of potential Oilers buyout candidates
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland is shopping for 20-goal scorers on a budget. What will he find?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Jay Woodcroft returning to coach AHL Condors and be reunited with Ken Holland
- Lowetide: Looking at the Oilers’ options for the No. 8 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.
- Jonathan Willis: How many of Sam Gagner, Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira can play top-nine minutes for the Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A with Ken Holland: On the draft, buyouts, free agency and how to have a successful offseason
- Lowetide: Trading for Loui Eriksson: What makes sense for the Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The top five players the Oilers could lose in the expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: What a trade involving Edmonton’s No. 8 pick might look like given Ken Holland’s history
- Lowetide: Hard Target Search: Finding the Oilers a centre who can penalty kill, help shape a useful third line, and serve in a mentor role
SWEDISH POSTER TALKS PHILIP BROBERG
Due to an enormous number of angry tweets and several posts on this blog forecasting the end times, I’m going to print Swedish Poster’s words and music from earlier this spring. Notice the balanced view the author gives you, and especially the line about his being a safe pick. I’m not a scout, I have Broberg No. 16 on my final list, saying “he’s big and can skate like the wind, while also displaying puck moving ability. Offense may be shy, but Swedish blue can fool you.” As a comparable, I ranked Oscar Klefbom No. 24, saying ” Big, two-way defender. Raw skill set, ISS compares him to Ryan Whitney.” If Broberg is the pick, we’ll drill down and find out about him in July. I think offense is the only real question, and he needs to bring at least some boxcars to make the pick worthwhile. Here’s SP.
The biggest ticket this year is Philip Broberg, 6’3 LHD who can absolutely fly. Skating is the first thing that pops out when you see him, not just amazing top speed but his acceleration is great both from standstill but also how he goes from 4th to 5th gear, he walks the line well and has great mobility in all directions. Against his peers coast to coast adventures are as common as a Gene pun. More interesting is to see him against grown ups in the second swedish tier, Allsvenskan, as he can’t just skate past guys at will at that level.
There you notice that he actually has a pretty good grasp where he should be defensively, breaks up plays, good gaps and moves the puck north not only by skating it up but he actually has a good first pass. As with most swedish D, in particular guys like Broberg who enters the mens ranks at an early age he’s not very physical but he’s pretty good at getting the puck from players either by shielding them off the puck or pokechecks. His shot is ok but not great, wellplaced wrister but needs more oomph to beat NHL goalies, with how explosive his skating is I think the chance he improves in that area is fairly good.
He’s got good puckhandling, not a dangler but controls the puck well at top speed, can make moves around players at high speed with the puck. He’s from the Lidström school of D where you don’t overhandle the puck once it’s under control on your stick and instead wait until you have to move past guys and make dekes to start messing about with the puck. His passing is fine, he moves the puck well technichally both forehand and backhand, as I mentioned he’s got a solid first pass.
Now the big talking point on Broberg and the thing that has people questioning him as an NHLer and thinking he’s one of the most likely players to bust amongst the top picks is his hockey IQ. I personally don’t think it’s a big issue, not elite in any way but not bad either, he knows his way around the ice, reads and reacts well.
Where I do think it stems from is that he doesn’t see the ice all that well offensively. Quite often you see him having those Darnell Nurse moments where he skates the puck into to the offensive zone and then doesn’t know what to do with it so he just keeps skating deeper into the zone, against his peers his skating is so outstanding that he usually can just take it to the net and create a scoring chance, but against tougher competition he often either ends up in the corner or just throws a wrister on net. Defensively and in other areas of the game his awareness is quite good though so I don’t think it’s about a severe lack of hockey smarts.
To my eye it looks like a lack of natural offensive instincts more than anything and that’s what might keep him from being a proper #1 D. There is one small caveat with regards to him lacking offensive instincts though. He’s a guy who’s development kind of exploded the last season and a half, he was a good player in his age group before, made the national teams and so on but something drastic happened with his trajectory once he moved from Örebro to AIK to make him the top name of the group. So what does this have to do with offensive instincts? Familiarity. Going from being a good player to a guy who can suddenly blow up the ice at will to create opportunities is a different situation and one he might need to adapt to in order to find his offensive groove. But with that burst of development you suddenly find yourself playing against full grown pros for the first time in your life and with that comes a whole new set of things to adapt to and providing offense is usually not at the top of the list for a 17 year old in a pro league.
If there’s any truth to this theory there might be untapped potential offensively and then you have a guy with pretty much the whole toolkit to be a #1D. That’s an if though. However as we’ve seen with Darnell this past season you can still be productive with limited offensive vision and instincts if your skating and puckhandling is good enough to move the puck up ice effectively. With that in mind I’d argue the risk he’s a bust is actually miniscule and instead he’s one of the safest picks in the draft. With his insane skating and ability to play defense I just don’t see how he won’t make it as a solid NHL D and even without an offensive uptick I think his upside is a #2 D.
LOTS OF WORK TO DO
HOLLAND’S 2010-11 TEAM
This is a fairly typical Red Wings team in the cap era when Detroit was contending. Mike Babcock was the coach, there were two men age 40, six more 35+ and another five 30+. Hudler was just back from a year with Moscow Dynamo and had a helluva time working his way back into the lineup.
HOLLAND’S 2018-19 TEAM (SO FAR)
Holland’s modus operandi involves employing the aged, so the idea that Sekera or Russell are in the end days with the organization shouldn’t be assumed. Nuge? Miles to go. Holland’s final Red Wings team had TEN players 30+, compared to six on the team he inherits in Edmonton. Holland might add more to the current group.
HOLLAND’S HOME FOR THE AGED
G Mike Smith. This is a possibility. Smith’s regular season even strength SP (.907) was poor but his playoff SP in the same discipline was .938 in five games. He is 37.
G Curtis McElhinney. Although he’s 36 and has posted a journeyman’s career, sometimes goalies go on runs of several years later on. He was rock solid in goal in 2018-19.
G Petr Mrazek. He’s 27, young for the group, but Holland knows him and in 40 games a year ago, Mrazek posted a .914SP.
G Brian Elliott. My personal choice, he posted a .907SP a year ago and is durable and capable of carrying a team on significant winning streaks. He is 34.
FORWARD WISH LIST
1 RW Brett Connolly. Ryan Rishaug mentioned him on the Dustin Nielson Show this morning (TSN1260), that’s a good sign. He can win battles, has skill and can play up and down the lineup.
2 LW Nik Ehlers. He would be No. 1 but I worry about the package required. Would the Jets do a pick and a player? Nurse? Larsson? What about a ‘kids pack’?
3 RW James Neal. As much risk as might be involved, Neal has the kind of skill Edmonton needs. Holland won’t be worried about age, but Lucic has to be part of the package. I wonder about a three-way mind blowing deal between Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Can Holland pull that off?
4 LW Tyler Ennis. He shouldn’t cost a lot, brings speed and skill. There’s no downside to this acquisition.
5 LC Nazem Kadri. Dare to dream.