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Oilers coach sympathizes with Broberg's 'frustration' but says he's still the 7th defenceman

Arizona Coyotes' Liam O'Brien (38) chases Edmonton Oilers' Philip Broberg (86) during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday March 22, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Arizona Coyotes' Liam O'Brien (38) chases Edmonton Oilers' Philip Broberg (86) during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday March 22, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Kris Knoblauch heaped praise upon the youngest Oilers defenceman Wednesday but said Philip Broberg isn't likely to get more playing time unless there's an injury.

On Tuesday, TSN reported that Broberg and his agent have developed "frustration with the Oilers" and are working to "resolve this issue privately."

Earlier in the day, hockey insider Frank Seravalli reported that the Oilers have granted Broberg's agent, Darren Ferris, permission to seek a trade, something general manager Ken Holland later told TSN is not true.

Broberg has played in just 10 of 22 games this season for the Oilers and didn't speak to reporters Wednesday.

"That's a difficult situation. It's difficult for the organization, obviously very difficult for the player," Knoblauch said Wednesday morning.

"You've got a wonderfully talented hockey player who just can't get that opportunity."

The coach called Broberg "solid" and a "really good hockey player" but said with the team fighting to get into a playoff spot, there's little opportunity for the 22-year-old.

"Right now, I'm very happy with our six defencemen. They've been playing well, our defensive structure has been good, our goals against is going down," Knoblauch said.

"He can play. But unfortunately, right now, he is our seventh guy."

Knoblauch said it's been unusual how few injuries the Oilers have had on the back end but that Broberg will be needed when somebody inevitably gets hurt.

In the past 12 games, Broberg has played in just two for 15 minutes of total ice time.

Defenceman Darnell Nurse also sympathized with Broberg but said the Oilers have a lot of good defencemen and are trying to win now.

"When we came into the league, and we were young, we were on a team that really didn't have a whole lot," Nurse said.

"So we got a lot of opportunity. For him, it's a whole different situation where we're pushing and trying to be one of the top teams in the league. And with that said, there's a give-and-take with development at that point. He's in a tough spot."

Nurse went on to applaud Broberg's work ethic and attitude as did fellow Swedish defenceman Mattias Ekholm.

The latter said Broberg "has all the tools" to be "a great defenceman in this league," but he needs ice time.

"You gotta play…because if you don't play, it's hard to be comfortable," he told reporters.

"I'm sure he's going to figure it out sooner or later, but I think at this time, we need him to be playing. He's not going to develop in the press box. So that's just what that is, and I'll leave that up to whoever decides what to do."

Ekholm said he went through a similar situation when he was young.

His advice to Broberg: "at times, you just have to bury your head and keep working."

Broberg can be sent to the AHL's Bakersfield Condors without having to clear waivers.

The Oilers play the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Wednesday.

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