EDMONTON, AB - It's not an uncommon sight to find Philip Broberg on the ice alone on an off day for Skelleftea.
Just Broberg and a bucket of pucks.
No coaches, no whistles, no drills, activating in nothing more than the outdoor shinny essentials: skates, track pants, gloves, stick and helmet, his Air Pods sealing his ears playing tunes of his choice.
Just Broberg doing his thing.
This is life at the moment for the eighth-overall pick from the 2019 NHL Draft, who was welcomed to the Oilers organization by President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Ken Holland in what was his first selection at the helm of the franchise.
Just Broberg in Sweden. Just Broberg in his element.
It's been a few months since the Swedish rearguard made the decision to remain in his home country for the 2019-20 season rather than move to North America. Broberg is 22 games into the campaign with Skelleftea, notching three assists and averaging 14:24 of ice time. He originally started out paired up with fellow Oilers prospect Filip Berglund but has since been attached to Petter Granberg.
Broberg's ultimate goal has not changed. It's to be in the National Hockey League in the future, so that's why he believes competing in the Swedish Hockey League this year was the right choice and that's also why he finds himself on the ice honing his craft on his day off.
"I think it was the right decision for me to play in Sweden," Broberg, speaking via phone, said.
"You practice every day against men, play against men. Eventually, I want to be in the NHL and that's against men, not juniors."
With just a trio of helpers on his stat line, the sublime-skating Swede knows his offence hasn't arrived just yet in Sweden's top league. He has, however, noticed just how defensive the SHL game is and believes that has helped round out other parts of his game.
"The SHL is probably the most defensive League, I would say," Broberg said.
"It's harder for a team to score a lot of goals. Almost every game, it's 2-1, 3-2, 4-3. Low scoring games. Every mistake you do can make you lose points."
The difficulty in scoring in the SHL has caused Broberg to emphasize his outlet passing. Broberg, undoubtedly, has the wheels to skate upstream against men but has found that utilizing his team more can cause headaches for the opposition.
"I think the more you can involve your teammates in the game, the harder it's going to be to defend against," he said. "The more I can pass it and get it back, the better. Obviously, you can sometimes skate the puck but not always. I'm trying to use my teammates as much as I can."
In essence, so far so good for Broberg, who's doing nothing more than cultivating his game in his motherland. Pretty soon, the 18-year-old will get a mini hiatus from Skelleftea to represent Sweden with compatriots of the same age group at the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Broberg, who participated in the 2019 edition of the event, was named to Sweden's preliminary squad alongside three of his Skelleftea teammates. The goal for the country, as always, is a medal finish.
The defender thinks his experience from the 2019 World J's, and the fact that he's played at the pro level now, will have him better prepared for puck drop in the Czech Republic on Dec. 26.
"The more experience you have, the better," Broberg said. I think I'm well prepared for the tournament. We have a great team.
"Hopefully, we can go there and win gold."
All images courtesy of Skelleftea AIK