The Edmonton Oilers organization has repeatedly squandered its talent, sometimes because it couldn’t afford that talent, sometimes because it couldn’t keep it happy here in Edmonton, but most recently because the organization lacked the managerial competence to hold on to the right players.
Today we’re going to deal with that last aspect of the sad tale of how Edmonton has let go of all too many OK-to-great NHL players, as we ponder the question: Will the Oilers finally get it right this time with its current talented group.
Broberg was a breakout performer along with Russian winger Vasily Podkolzin, who had eight goals and went to Vancouver 10th in 2019.
Swedish winger Lucas Raymond, who was only 16 then but on their No. 1 line, just went fourth overall to Detroit, and the multi-talented Alexis Lafreniere, went first overall to the New York Rangers in October.
Podkolzin and Raymond are back for this world juniors. Lafreniere is not.
Broberg won’t double-dip and stick around for Oilers training camp when the world juniors are over here Jan. 6. They want the teenager to concentrate on his game back home. They love Broberg’s upside but have a full complement of D — Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson and Frolunda’s Theodor Lennstrom, a veteran on a one-year contract who plays with more pace than Joel Persson — to battle for the seventh and eighth D slots.
“I talked to Philip a week ago and I told him he will go back to Skelleftea until the end of their season and then come back to Edmonton or Bakersfield once they’re done,” said Oilers GM Ken Holland.
“We had a long discussion about what was best for me and the future,” said Broberg. “I think I played really well for the training camp for the (August) playoffs and was looking for a spot on the team but I respect their (Oilers) decision and I’ll go back develop more and I’ll be ready for the NHL when I come back. We have a strong team. I believe we can win it all.”
Not only do the Oilers have high end NHL talent in Connor McDavid Jersey, Leon Draisaitl Jersey, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jersey and Darnell Nurse Jersey, they have in the last few years put together an impressive prospect base, both in terms of players who are already gaining ground in the NHL and with prospects soon to do so.
The team’s young NHLers include Kailer Yamamoto Jersey, Ethan Bear Jersey and Caleb Jones Jersey, with those with a decent chance of making the NHL in the next handful of years including Philip Broberg Jersey, Evan Bouchard Jersey, Dylan Holloway, Raphael Lavoie, Dmitri Samorukov, Ryan McLeod Jersey, Tyler Benson Jersey, William Lagesson Jersey, Carter Savoie and Michael Kesselring. Jesse Puljujarvi Jersey is also in the mix.
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It’s easily the most talented group of under-25 players in Edmonton since the early 1980. That famous group competed for Stanley Cups until then owner Peter Pocklington sold and traded them off, one by one, because he couldn’t afford them. This trading away off of veteran stars continued until the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2005 and the city’s boom economy in that same era changed the economic formula here.
Yet, maddeningly, the franchise was still unable to hold on to top talent, largely because of managerial incompetence during the Decade of Darkness.
In previous deaces, a few buddings stars and vital role players slipped through Edmonton’s fingers, such as Walt Poddubny in 1981 and Shaun Van Allen, Martin Gelinas Jersey, Kirk Matlby, Niro Satan and Martin Rucinsky in the 1990s. But from 2008 to 2019, it seemed like every year the Oilers found a way to shed a useful young veteran player from the roster, often getting little back in return.
The Decade of Darkness commenced in February 2007 when the organization traded off its final big star over a money issue, with Ryan Smyth Jersey leaving for New York, a move that was arguably wise cap management in the moment but came back to haunt the team, as Smyth managed to continue to play well in the NHL.
After that came a series of iffy trades that meant for years Edmonton had a missing middle, a lack of useful vets in their NHL primes between the ages of 23 and 29.
Oilers trade Matt Greene, 25, and Jarret Stoll Jersey, 26, for Lubo Visnovsky. Stoll and Greene would go on to play seven solid seasons in LA, winning two Cups. Stoll was a third line centre, Greene a bottom pairing d-man.
Oilers trade Raffi Torres Jersey, 26, for Gilbert Brule. Torres would have four more productive NHL seasons as a third line winger.