LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER

Lowetide
March 23 2013 10:26AM

This deadline is going to tell us a lot about the Oilers blue in 2013-14. How much are the Oilers counting on Oscar Klefbom?

The fact that the Oilers have Laddy Smid hanging out to dry a little as we approach the deadline suggests to me that the club may feel Oscar Klefbom can stick in a big way come fall. If you read his draft day scouting report it does make some sense in terms of skill set:

  • Redline Report: Klefbom is a real Red Line favorite. He’s certainly the most overlooked of the top prospects, but is the best pure passer of the bunch, and his skating ranks only behind Murphy. He already makes pro style passes — crisp and with touch — and excels at breaking the trap with tremendous stretch passes through the neutral zone, showing great vision. He was also the natural leader on Sweden’s national under-18 team. All this comes wrapped in a 6-3, 196-pound package, and Klefbom has really stepped up the physical aspect of his game over the last 12 months. At Red Line, we believe he might ultimately become the best all-around balance of offensive upside and physical strength in this year’s class.

That part that I've underlined puts Klefbom on another level from Smid if he play against the other team's better players and be an effective defender. That's a massive item: Klefbom has never skated in the NHL and is probably years away from being able to handle the workload Smid faces every night--if ever.

Defensemen like Smid do not grow on trees, and are rarely free agents when they're 27. Why? Good teams lock them up with long term deals before they push the free agent button.

Why did Edmonton wait? I hear crickets at my house.

LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER

When it comes to throwing rookie defensemen into the deep end, the Edmonton Oilers have been eager to move in lock, stock and barrel and get things going right away. As a for instance, the club didn't wait more than a heartbeat after Jeff Petry showed an ability to play good opps at par before offloading Tom Gilbert, and Justin Schultz has been playing big (and tough) minutes as a rookie.

I think the club wants a more mobile, passing savvy option on LD for the top 4, someone like Klefbom who has a wider range of skills. The problem is that when it comes to rookie defensemen--and I've been watching this for 40 years--mistakes happen until the game slows down and they become comfortable with multiple sorties and making good decisions at speed.

The smart plan (imo) is to sign Smid to a long term deal and enter the fall looking something like this:

  1. Smid-Petry
  2. Schultz-Schultz
  3. Klefbom-veteran RH D

It's going to cost a lot, very likely north of $4M a year to sign Smid. That is the price of waiting this late to sign a capable 27-year old defenseman. When Klefbom finds his way, the club can move him up to the second pairing--maybe as Nick Schultz has his contract expire--and then Klefbom can move up with someone like Marincin arriving.

The problem isn't that Klefbom can't handle NHL defense, the problem is that he isn't proven. It's like Smid in 2006 fall, or Justin Schultz now; Schultz is flagging and struggling but there's no real option that allows coach Krueger to put Schultz in the pressbox for a night or two. It just isn't available.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Playing NHL defense is a damn difficult job, and if you don't do it well there a millions watching who know what you did wrong. The only real way to succeed is through this simple equation: skill married to experience. The Oilers have the skill, but the moment Ladislav Smid leaves they'll take another hit in the experience department.

It won't work. It never has.

Today at noon Edmonton time, we hit the airwaves of Team 1260 with two hours of hockey talk. Scheduled to appear:

  • Scott Cullen from tsn. We’ll talk about first half surprises, Oilers who are kicking butt, Calder chances for Yakupov and Schultz, and of course your questions are welcome.
  • Ellen Etchingham from Back Hand Shelf. We’ll talk about Ellen’s unique view of the game, what fascinates her these days and her unusual relationship with the rabid fandom that is Oilers Nation.
  • Corey Graham from team 1260′s Oil King broadcasts. Corey’s the hardest working play by play guy in junior hockey, because the Oil Kings keep winning! A massive blowout last night kicked off the playoffs for the OK, we’ll talk about the game, the incredible depth and the Memorial Cup.
  • Travis Yost from Hockeybuzz. Travis is the Senators columnist for the buzz, and he’s exceptional. His tee up for today’s game is here. We’ll talk Senators, Oilers, playoffs and the impact of coaching on a roster.

Hope you can tune in. Questions and comments welcome, best way to get hold of me (even during the show) is on twitter @Lowetide_ but I check the blog too for questions and comments.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 GVBlackhawk
March 23 2013, 02:16PM
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Mikey wrote:

4 mil to Smid is too much just like 6 mil is too much for Hall and Eberle.

Just think how much 3 mil could help us in the next 4 years. (3.25 for Smid, 5 for Hall and 4.75 for Ebs)

4M to Smid would be an overpay. His comparables are showing 3.0M - 3.5M per year.

Eberle was an overpay, but not a drastic one. There is no way he would have signed for 4.75 per. His true value is probably 5.0M - 5.5M per year.

Hall will be considered a value contract over the next 7 years -- he was not an overpay.

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#52 GVBlackhawk
March 23 2013, 02:19PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

We'll soon find out if this Klefbom is more hype than talent. He must be good if they're giftwrapping a roster spot for him. Justin Schultz wasn't even gifted one of those on this mostly vacant blueline.

I'm all for moving out multiple bodies to make room for new blood on this team. Get what you can for Smid,Whitney,Khabby,Jones. Save the Gagner/Hemsky/Paajarvi types for a present day top pairing blueliner if that developes. Maybe Kevin Lowe is this summers Paul Holmgren at the entry draft, if they're finished with this intentional tanking stuff finally.

You think that this was/is intentional tanking? If so, then you give management far too much credit.

Sadly, it is unintentional tanking.

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#53 GXL
March 23 2013, 02:29PM
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DSF wrote:

Klefbom was rated slightly below Brodin in his draft year but who knows how his injury will affect him.

The jury is still out for me on Schultz.

He's obviously very gifted offensively but his defensive game is a mess.

Reminds me a great deal of Jack Johnson...in more ways than one.

I wouldn't say Schultz is a defensive mess. He could be better, but from "the saw it good" perspective: he's positionally smart with a good active stick. Reads the play well but not overly physical in clearing the front of the net.

As much as I like Smid, anything >$3.65M is an overpay and would agree that in this cap era, an overpay would be disastrous.

I agree that Klefbom has a lot of promise, however the past has shown us that injuries (season ending ones) usually have a negative impact on a players development (Pouliot, Jacques etc...)

Thanks for the input DSF.

GXL

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#54 GVBlackhawk
March 23 2013, 02:30PM
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Raine wrote:

Klefbom marred by injuries the past couple years, he won't play a single game this season, never has put up any kind of points and many fans think he's going to step in next season and become our future Pronger. I don't think so. Klefbom is on track to be Ladislav Smid, nothing overly special ... and he might be behind schedule due to injuries and the inability to develop his game.

AS a prospect scouts on Smid often said this about him "He's a smooth skater, excellent puck-handler and has great vision on the ice." ... this didn't exactly translate to the NHL.

I wouldn't get overly excited about Klefbom until he's back on the ice and we can see how he progresses. All this positive talk about a guy on the injury reserve for a duration of a season is comical.

I highly doubt the Oilers are waiting on Klefbom to fill in Smid's boots next season, as being suggested by Lowetide.

You don't think that the Oilers would rush a prospect like Klefbom?

We're talking about the same team that currently has a rookie leading the team in time on ice per game right?

And a notoriously, well-documented track record of rushing prospects to the NHL?

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#55 DigDeepNBleedBlue
March 23 2013, 02:50PM
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Paying Smid 4mil is like putting the pistol to your head and pulling the trigger.

Boom! lol I kid!

That would not be a good idea, however. And, I hope that never happens.

Smid has issues distributing the puck, but that part of his game aside, he does do great things. Without the puck he blocks shots, gets rough, hits, plays good defensive hockey, all admirable qualities, but with the lack of offence it would not make sense to pay 4mil. JMO

If Smid does play hard ball it will put management in a tough position. As I agree replacing Smid will not be easy. But, paying big dollars for this type of D-man can turn into a nightmare for teams. Komisarek is an example of how investing that type of money in a defensive styled D-man can have you waking up screaming "NOOOOO!" in a cold sweat! Plus, you can't hide that mistake in the minors anymore. I wonder if these concerns are some of the reasons there is no signature on the dotted line.

I say give him 3mil (that might be high even for my armchair) for 3 or 4 years. The problem with that is if you pay Smid 3mil then what do you have to pay Fistric. I say 2mil for him.

Is Smid worth 1 more mil than Fistric?

On a side note, I'm not sure why Fistric is off so many peoples list for D-men next year. To me Fistric is a positive asset. I, personally, hope he dons the Blue next year.

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#56 Quicksilver ballet
March 23 2013, 03:52PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

You think that this was/is intentional tanking? If so, then you give management far too much credit.

Sadly, it is unintentional tanking.

Have a little faith GV. Starting this summer, things will change drastically. Lowe finally punches that accelerator this summer with a wow deal (top pairing blueliner) grab Drouin at the entry draft, move Hall to the middle in the fall. Alls we'll need then is a goaltender.

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#57 Mikey
March 23 2013, 03:58PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

4M to Smid would be an overpay. His comparables are showing 3.0M - 3.5M per year.

Eberle was an overpay, but not a drastic one. There is no way he would have signed for 4.75 per. His true value is probably 5.0M - 5.5M per year.

Hall will be considered a value contract over the next 7 years -- he was not an overpay.

He would have signed. If not he would be a RFA, and after this season the way he is playing if it made it to arbitration it would have been 4.75 at the most.

If his true value is 5 mil then 4.75 is not off base.

Hall was not an over pay, but if you could have got him to sign for 5 mil then your laughing.

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#58 Smokey
March 23 2013, 05:10PM
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Mikey wrote:

As much as I love Smid, you can replace Top 5 in shots and hits. Montreal did it when they let komisarek go.

Your argument is terrific if you base it on the Oilers being able to draft and develop talent that is ready to step in. Montreal and Edmonton are worlds apart in drafting and assessing talent and then being able to turn those players into players.

You got a lot of great kids in the pipeline, from Marincin, Gernat, Davidson, Musil, Bigos, Klefbom. The other prospects/suspects Fedun, and Teubert and Plante are the guys that are available for next season, and none of them project to be more then tweeners.

I look at it if the Oilers trade Smid, which kid is stepping in. We all watched one word Juniors and saw a great player in Klefbom, but he's often injured and theres no guarantee his ceiling is better then Smid, other then that who's ready in your estimation?

You trade Smid, you better hope Fistric can play more or Peckham can find a new level, or Teubert is better then what I think he is.

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#59 Dog Train
March 23 2013, 05:41PM
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Klefbom should start in OKC next season. He has hardly played this season due to injury. I don't see what the rush is, by all accounts Oscar will be a real gem when he finds his stride in the NHL. Let's just make sure he makes the right steps before he is thrown into the deep end. Of course, this is the Oilers that we are talking about and they like to rush their shiny new toys.

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#60 madjam
March 23 2013, 06:27PM
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Dangling J.Schultz in trade for Weber ?

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#61 Hayek
March 23 2013, 07:19PM
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Only thing I am concerned about Klefbom next year, even if he is ready for the NHL, is how the fans will react. Without him getting PP time, it's unlikely he puts up many points.

So on the defensive errors that ome with ice time, do you guys think the fans are going to be overly hard on him?

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#62 Spurzey
March 24 2013, 07:09AM
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@Jon

^^^this all day

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#63 michael
March 24 2013, 09:49AM
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I think that the more I look at the Oilers roster of defencemen the more I am liking Klefbom. If the Oilers are out of it by April 3d I see a couple of scenarios playing out. The first has to be that the Oilers sign Smid by next Sunday. If Smid wants 4 million plus he'll find it elsewhere. Dollars and cents have to be add up to ensure long term viability of this franchise. The days of overpaying for 3rd line wingers and fourth line centers is at an end. So is paying 4 milllion plus for guys like Smid.

The Oilers will trade Whitney. And Potter . Lastly I would see what the market bears for either Smid or N Shultz. Kick some tires and take a look see.

Some of the media would rather we have a love in and sing kumbaya with guys like Smid,Whitney and N Shultz. The bottom line is that the Oilers defencemen are not physical enough. We let Potter play while Peckham takes a seat. we are getting schooled. Meanwhile the opposition pays little to possess the puck in our zone. the pundits refer to N Shultz and Whitney having good sticks. same with J Shultz. I would rather they use less stick and more body.

First pass is important. So is man on man play. Too many times over the past 6 years have I a lack of truculence and grit in out defencemen in favor of the guy who is skilled with the puck. The results speak for themselves. I hope that this season marks an end to Tambo's reticence to trade for D men who are more nasty to play against. We need more Fistrics. More Tuebert. Less of the fancy. More of the hard to play against.

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#64 oilers07
March 24 2013, 07:14PM
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@michael

You are watching a different game than anyone else my friend. Tuebert is NOT an NHL defenseman and will never be one. Fistric makes the odd hit but his foot speed is so bad there is a reason he was number 7 in Dallas. Good thing you're not making the calls or the oilers would be even worse than they are

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#65 Jon
March 25 2013, 05:59AM
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A-Mc wrote:

I agree. The newagesys posts are retarded long.

The irony of it all is that, while putting so much work into making posts like that, no one reads them because they are far too long.

His posts need to be 10% of what they are.

You hit the nail on the head. He could be making outstanding observations but most will never see them because as soon as they see the length they keep on scrolling.

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