Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.
Philip Broberg is proving that sometimes a change in scenery, no matter how small, can make a big difference.
The Sweden-born defenseman developed his game with the hockey organization in his hometown of Orebro. But after 15 games with Orebro's under-20 team and seven with the under-18 team last season, he decided a change was necessary.
"It didn't work out as planned with my last team so I changed teams and I went with AIK and it has worked really well," Broberg said. "My confidence is good and they believe in me, so it's better. I like it."
AIK certainly likes Broberg (6-foot-3, 199 pounds). Playing against men in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, the 17-year-old has three assists in 13 games this season. He also received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its October players to watch list.
"He's an excellent skater for his size, with many different gears allowing him to control and set the tempo of the play with his skating, puck-moving game," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "He's a highly competitive prospect who is smart, composed and quick in making plays, and also responsible, playing big minutes in all situations. Another high-end Swedish defenseman that is a complete NHL prospect package."
Broberg had two assists in 15 games with Orebro's under-20 team to start the season, but after moving to AIK, he had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 23 games, and three points (one goal, two assists) in three playoff games.
He also improved other aspects of his game, which did not go unnoticed when he helped Sweden finish second at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.
He impressed with his offensive flair and ability to sustain the attack at the right time, and tied for third among defensemen with four points (three goals, one assist) in five games.
"Compared to six months or a year ago, he took a huge step," Sweden coach Magnus Havelid said in August. "He reads when he can jump up more and he makes more good decisions. I think he's a steadier defenseman.
"When he jumps on the ice he can beat the forwards, beat them 1-on-1, and open up the ice for my forwards, so that's a good skill. He can shoot well from the blue line. He's definitely heading in the right direction but he's still a young guy and still has to learn a lot. As a coach, when you see him on the ice it's cool to see how much he has developed."
Five Sweden-born defensemen were chosen in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Rasmus Dahlin, who played for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League last season, was selected No. 1 by the Buffalo Sabres.
Broberg likely won't follow Dahlin at No. 1, but could be the first Sweden-born defenseman to hear his name called at the 2019 draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
"It's always fun to see a Swedish guy go high in the draft because you play against them a lot in the Swedish league," Broberg said. "You look up to them and it's always good to have that motivation. I hope that one day I can be the guy."
Photo courtesy of Joakim Hall