Victor Soderstrom of Brynas in the Swedish Hockey League and Philip Broberg of AIK in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, are two of the top defensemen available in the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
The first round is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).
But the differences between them are as distinct as their skill sets.
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"Broberg is perhaps a rawer prospect," director of NHL European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He's very strong. An excellent skater, he's flying on the ice. Soderstrom is more of a finesse-type of player. So there's quite a bit of difference between the two. It's up to the team drafting, what they need. Broberg is a skater, Soderstrom is more of a playmaker, finesse-type of player. Both have that advantage in that they played a full season of senior hockey."
Soderstrom (6-foot, 182 pounds), a right-handed shot, had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 44 SHL games. He's No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters for the 2019 Draft.
Broberg (6-3, 200), a left-handed shot, had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 41 games. He's No. 5 in Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters.
They were teammates for Sweden which won the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Broberg had six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games and was named the tournament's best defenseman. Soderstrom had one assist in four games and missed the final three games of the tournament with a concussion but said he was cleared to play a week after the tournament ended.
NHL.com sought the opinion of evaluators who have watched Soderstrom and Broberg this season. Five of the six spoken to said they would choose Broberg but each said the decision would be difficult, and each had positive things to say about each player. They promised honesty in exchange for anonymity.
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In favor of Victor Soderstrom
"Soderstrom starts the offense with a great first pass. He's a great four-way skater. He played at the World Under-18s the same way he did in the Swedish league, which leads us to believe he's going to be a real good player. He's just a smart, cerebral typical Swedish defenseman."
"Victor is a smart, specific type of defenseman. He moves the puck, he doesn't get himself into trouble."
"He's a mature player. Maybe not the biggest stature but he's strong, terrific skater, very smart, very mobile, moves the puck in transition very well, solid defender. His offense, he's shown glimpses of it, but playing at the pro level as a young kid he's fairly conservative. But as we've seen with a lot of the younger Swedish defensemen, that side of their game comes a bit later. Paying with his own age group he's a bit more dynamic offensively."
In favor of Philip Broberg
"The skill set, vision, ability to create. He's a difference maker on the ice. Real skilled, high hockey IQ. Both are good players. Broberg's skill set equals (Chicago Blackhawks prospect) Adam Boqvist."
"Broberg is more dynamic and can have more of an impact on the game. He's an electric skater. I think Broberg will be able to play big minutes if he realizes his physical potential."
"Broberg, with the size and the skating, I think he's a special a player. I think at the [Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in Edmonton in August] he was dynamite (three goals, one assist in five games). I know people question his defensive zone but when you have the puck the whole time, that's their version of defense. He's a special player and an elite skater. He's almost 6-4. Someone is going to draft a special player there."
"It's a lot closer than some people might think, but if you want the higher ceiling, it's Broberg."
"I think Broberg is an exceptional skater, he manages his game in every single area of it. And it's not just his skating, it's his skating in every single regard. It's forwards skating, it's lateral skating, it's pivoting. He understands that when he comes off a move off the pivot, he's moving quick and he's moving at a high rate of speed. ... I think Philip's hockey sense is excellent. I think his puck handling is excellent. I think as he continues to grow and mature I think he'll be that much better."
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