VANCOUVER — Ken Holland was part of the Detroit Red Wings’ front office that selected a defenceman named Nicklas Lidstrom back in 1989.
Thirty years later, the Edmonton Oilers will be hoping lightning strikes twice.
The club took blue-liner Philip Broberg with the eighth pick in the NHL draft on Friday night, adding the Swede to a stable of young prospects on a team in need of more high-end talent on the back end.
“I was (projected) around this spot, but I’m just so honoured to be an Oiler now,” Broberg said. “I started to get a feeling in the end, but you never know.”
Broberg was asked what Lidstrom — a four-time Stanley Cup champion and seven-time Norris Trophy winner — means to young Swedish defencemen.
“He’s obviously a legend,” Broberg said. “A good guy, the perfect human. He had 20 good years, and in my mind he’s the best defenceman ever.”
Broberg played last season with AIK in Sweden, scoring twice and adding seven assists in 41 games. He also played eight times for AIK’s junior team, posting eight points.
The 17-year-old represented Sweden at the most recent under-18 world championship, scoring two goals and tacking on four assists in seven games. Broberg also played for Sweden at the world juniors in Vancouver, appearing in four games and recording one assist.
Edmonton drafted defenceman Evan Bouchard 10th in 2018 and also has blue-liner Dmitri Samorukov (84th overall in 2017) in the system.
“It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it,” Broberg said of being part of a young defence with the Oilers. “I’m going to take it all in. I’m just so happy to be an Oiler right now.”
Edmonton also owns picks No. 38, 85, 100, 162, 193 in rounds two through seven of the draft, which resumes Saturday back at Rogers Arena.
The Oilers handed the franchise reins to Holland in May following a turbulent 2018-19 season that saw head coach Todd McLellan fired in November and GM Peter Chiarelli handed his walking papers two months later.
Holland joined the Oilers after 36 years with the Red Wings in various capacities. He won four Stanley Cups in the Motor City, including three as GM, but was briefly shuffled into the senior vice-president’s role following April’s hiring of Steve Yzerman before the Oilers came calling.
After his move to Edmonton, Holland tabbed Dave Tippett — a veteran of more than 1,000 NHL games behind the bench — as his head coach.
The Oilers are led by superstar captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up front, but have a number of holes elsewhere, including the bottom-6 forward group and on the blue line.
McDavid and Draisaitl, the second- and fourth-leading point producers in the NHL last season, combined to put up 91 of Edmonton’s 229 goals (39.7 per cent) as the club missed the playoffs by 11 points in the Western Conference.
McDavid’s 116 points also meant he was in on just over half of his team’s scoring plays.
The Oilers have made the playoffs just once in McDavid and Draisaitl’s four campaigns since coming into the league together as rookies in 2015, and have missed out on post-season hockey 12 of the last 13 springs.
“Right now he’s the best player in the world,” Broberg said of McDavid. “Obviously his speed is a great aspect of his game.
“One day I hope I will play with him.”