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.


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.


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.

  • If the Oilers are trying to come out of the rebuild, then really they have to sign Smid at whatever the cost. If they are fine dithering at the bottom of the league for another couple of years then trade Smid now for picks.

    As I see it, it really is that black and white.

  • Considering that the contract we sign Laddy to will ultimately be fullfilled by another NHL team on the backend who really cares if we give him a top loaded contract now?

    We will ultimately be baited into trading one of the kids sooner or later, we can pretend it isnt going to happen but it will happen sooner than later if we start next year off loseing. It will be done via this managment team or the new one we will need to bring in if we dont turn the corner.

    The Kid gloves are off with this organisation, yes we need to sign Smid and no we cant replace him for a reasonable cost now or ever because he is so young, Smid is still years away from his prime which for d-men is later than forwards. Smid fits our template for d-men quite well and its that simple so the Oilers must put up the money now, they realise one of the core group of kids will be in play next year if this team doesnt start to win games so they will pay now to keep the defense we have intact knowing full well they will be demanding a top d-man back if they are forced to pull the trigger next year.

    The Oilers cant afford to rock their own boat right now, they need to wait to see where the other shoe drops after this shortened season, players like Hall have a few years behind them now and are defineable quantitys, Halls results for example make him a huge trade asset next year, in fact maybe our top asset overall.

    We will never be in a position to keep this core intact , the only chance this team had to do that was this shortened season, a winning season would have forced the PTB to close ranks and solidify the roster. Ultimately the players always decide their own fates, if they want to be winners then they better buckle down right now and win for each other to try to keep this group together for a few years, the longer it takes them to get their acts together the higher the likelyhood we see one of them traded before this team hits its stride.

    Smids value is really defined by the type of d-man he is and that is a big,shot blocking stay at home tough as nails slightly nasty defneceman , exactly what we need, and exactly what every team in the NHL needs, no we cant afford to let him go just yet.

    We cant even support J. Shultzes offense this year, we have issues with keeping players in their optimal individual stylistic comfort zones within the system we use, Laddys chances of being signed sucessfully are quite high, he knows the system well enough that he can provide consistant results within it like Gagner and Horcoff and a few others can do.

    We waited to sign Laddy long term because of our cheap ass negotiating practices this managment team prefers to use over integrity based operations. This Oilers organisation invests in long term character and performance assasination to escalating degrees as a form of fiscal control at contract negotiation time, it is really bush league. We did the same thing to Gagner and are taking it hard on that one, as we will all soon see. We couldnt forsee all the #1 picks we would aquire and werent set up to make the fiscal model we have in place now work, not at all.

    I dont envy this managment group because most of the key decisions they arent making right now are curative decisions that are corrective in nature, these dirty jobs must be done before this team can move forward in a healthy way.

    All roads lead to Rome and all roads in Hockey lead to managment. We are so far behind in taking curative action to revamp the organisation as a whole that we are trying to fix things from ten years ago today and the organisation cant seem to find a way to make the jump to realtime with its projection of resources and influence. All the players including Laddy are caught in this time tunnel type of situation. The players all project accurately and the player managment team has a decent take on all of them but the system and upper managments wants constantly change and alter course preventing asset optimisation hence the lack of system optimisation and the resulting lack of consistancy.

    This is why so many people are calling for a realignment in managment, they see the source but maybe not the influences that lead them there. Fans see the disconnect but dont understand that most of it is caused by HISTORICAL problems we cant seem to shake, we are managerially trying to maintain an idealism that has utterly failed us and because the key players at the Round Table all are grizzled old veterans they all believe that holding the line is the best decision to make, and because they are old and grizzled and have nothing to lose and they are willing to let the team sit and rot while they get their bearings and adjust their eye-glasses and nodd at each other affirmatively in a Santa Clause type reassureing feel-good manner.

    I have surrendered the season to the players ability to work for each other , the system has shown it can work, the coaches have shown they can work the system, now its up to the players to show each other that they are all worth the 60 mins of hard work it takes to win one game at a time.

    Managment gets no more attention from me this year and system and individual player critiques are out the window, its gutcheck time and this means its finally the Witching Hour and the Players will take the ship in from here or will go down with it as marks on their resumes. Ones that as a group they can never erase. Its time to sit back and see who has matured and who hasnt, all the marbles are in play every night.

    Anyone ever watched the video for the song “Jesus take the Wheel”? Well the Players have the wheel now and this is surely a runaway train, but the right hands are in control now, I wonder how the story is going to end?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

  • GVBlackhawk

    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?

  • Spurzey

    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.

    • A-Mc

      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

  • A-Mc

    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.

    • A-Mc

      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.