Yesterday, we kicked off a series of looking at 10 options the Canucks will have with the 10th overall pick at the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
It started with looking at American forwards Trevor Zegras and Matthew Boldy - read it here. If the Canucks are looking for some offensive firepower, those two are intriguing options. However, the organization may look to add another defenceman to the mix.
The Canucks selected Quinn Hughes with the 7th overall selection last year and his impact was already felt with his five-game debut to close out last season. They may want to head back down that road again this year and take a defenceman at 10th overall. The players available won't be as dynamic as Hughes, but they will add an element to the prospect pool that could help in the long term.
Today, we'll look at two Swedish defencemen who could be available for the Canucks at 10th overall.
If you are looking for a smart defenceman who can make the right play almost every time, then Victor Soderstrom jumps to the top of the list for this draft class. Not to mention the added benefit that he is right-handed, which is something that every team is always looking to add.
Soderstrom started his draft season in with Brynas U20 team in the SuperElit league putting up one goal and seven assists in 14 games and made an impact every time he jumped over the boards. He then made his way to the big club in the SHL and didn't come back to the SuperElit until the post-season. Soderstrom scored four goals and three assists in 44 games that saw him play an average of 17:06 per game.
The Swedish defender processes the game flawlessly and always makes the right play to get the puck going in the right direction. Despite playing most of the season against men, his defensive game stood out almost every night. Which isn't something that you normally see from a 17-year-old defenceman and it speaks to the maturity of his game and how smart he is.
Soderstrom is a fluid and agile skater, which he uses to maintain great gap control on attacking forwards. He is effective at guiding opponents away from the high danger areas, then engaging with his long reach, stripping the puck, and then move it out with a perfectly placed pass to a teammate. Soderstrom does need to add strength to his 5'11" frame over the next few years, but he rarely gets himself into a situation where that is an area of concern.
The Sverige born defender is very adept at getting the puck on net with his shots and is ensures to put the puck in the right spot for his forwards to receive his crisp passes. It's not behind them or out of reach, it's right into their wheelhouse.
There have been some suggestions that his offensive upside may not be as high as some of the other defenceman in this class, but he has shown that when pitted against his peers, he has some intriguing tools that allow him to generate offence. This season was about him surviving in the SHL and helping his team keep the puck out of the net. He did that at an extremely high level of efficiency that suggest the offence will come with more confidence and an adjustment of role over the next couple of years in the SHL.
Philip Broberg burst onto the scene this year with a fantastic performance at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup that saw him score three goals and one assist in five games. It wasn't so much the point totals at that event, but the display of his skating abilities, using his size to drive wide, and then cut in towards the opposing net.
He closed out the season with another standout performance with a two-goal and four-assist output in seven games for Sweden at the U18 World Juniors and as a result was named the best defender at the tournament. He also represented Sweden at the U20 World Juniors here in Vancouver as the only draft eligible defenceman on the roster.
In between all those international tournaments, Broberg played 41 games for AIK in the Allsvenskan, the second division in Sweden, and scored two goals and seven assists. He also appeared in eight games in the SuperElit junior league and was a point-per-game. He was a busy player this season, but appeared to step up his game every time he donned the Swedish colours.
Broberg is a puck transporter more than anything else. He isn't afraid to take the puck from his own zone, skate through the neutral zone and then try to make things happen offensively. He uses fantastic skating and size to push himself through opponent's coverage and go where he wants to.
The offensive side to his game is raw, but he has a penchant to make highlight reel plays.
Despite being labelled as an offensive defenceman, Broberg handles himself quite well in the defensive zone. He isn't a physical defender, but does use his skating and size to lean on forwards and then eliminate their chances. He then takes the puck and takes it out of danger. He could be a bit better with his anticipation while defending on the rush, but his skating abilities allow him to recover easily.
Broberg has all the raw tools to be a fantastic offensive defenceman, but at times his decision making with the puck can leave a bit to be desired. He can skate himself into zero space or makes a play that leaves his teammates in trouble.
The team taking the defenceman will have to work on that aspect of his game as well as refining his skills with the puck. But if he can put it all together, there is a lot to like about his game.