One of the things Oiler fans should look for this summer is massive overhaul and improvement on the blue. One of the key indicators may be where Oscar Klefbom ends up this fall. If he’s in Edmonton as a top 6D, it’ll be very hard to argue the rebuild is over and the turn north secure. Should he start in OKC? Best for player, best for team.

At age 20, Tom Poti was playing defense for Boston University in the NCAA. The next season, he was an NHL rookie with the Edmonton Oilers. He was so good with the puck that Poti made the jump, but he had major issues defensively and never did develop into the player expected when he arrived in the NHL.

Part of the problem for Poti was he’d never had to play in a game where there were men more talented; that changed in a quick hurry when he arrived in the NHL.

The Edmonton Oilers current blue features young Justin Schultz, who at age 22 made his debut in the NHL this season. Although it’s clear that he’s an outstanding talent, it’s also true that the learning curve is a steep one even for a highly touted prospect like Schultz.


In the case of Oscar Klefbom, there’s an added issue: injury. First, his most recent injury in the fall was serious.

  • Ryan DittrickBack on Oct. 9 in a Swedish Elite League game vs. Vaxjo, Klefbom was nudged from behind with what he deemed to be a “dirty hit,” sending him heavily into the boards. On the six-hour, through-the-night bus ride home to Karlstad, the defenceman experienced bleeding in the surrounding muscle and required the use of a sling.

All is well now according to reports but the young man hasn’t played in months and has lost some valuable development time. The prudent thing would be for the organization to send him to OKC and wait for him to force his way up the depth chart, possibly earning a callup for an injury replacement or struggling regular.

I think Craig MacTavish put the Klefbom situation into perspective recently when discussing improving the defense.

  • MacT: "Klefbom is a guy everybody is anxiously awaiting to come into our lineup. It’s always dangerous to have too high of expectations for a young player, but he’s a very complete player for such a young player, so I think he’s going to really help back there"

That’s a very reasonable take, one that suggests he’s going to have an impact, but also saying immediate results are unlikely.


Klefbom (above) was a teammate of Jonas Brodin back in Farjestad, and Brodin’s impressive NHL debut has some believing that Oscar can do the same thing. The problem with that idea is this: Brodin was paired with Ryan Suter, one of the NHL’s best defensemen. I’ve read in several places (mostly Minnesota, though) that Brodin inspired the Suter turnaround this season. However, this graph indicates that Suter is far more effective without Brodin than with–which makes sense based on their experience and ability.

Still, that’s an excellent pairing–veteran blue with rookie D–but surely if Edmonton acquired a "Ryan Suter" type they would pair him with Schultz the younger–still a developing talent and in need of mentoring.


In the first installment of this series (Hartikainen–A False Spring?) we discussed the possibility that Harski doesn’t deliver enough offense to merit NHL employment. The issue with Klefbom is twofold–experience and readiness–but the long term answer is far more promising.

There is little doubt Oscar Klefbom will have an NHL career. Only injury or a trade will keep him from being an Oiler.

  • 24% body fat

    Risk versus Reward. Is there any reason to risk a potentially very good NHL defenders confidence and development? Trust the minor league coach for a year. Kleffbom can be called up for a taste and/or the playoffs if the Oil are there.

  • Am I reading that Brodin played 700 out of his 800 mins with Suter? That chart is just difficult enough to read that I would have to spend more than 30 seconds in order to be confident in what I was getting from it. Unacceptable! 🙂

  • NewfoundlandOil

    Nice to see the thread go all Kevin Lowe.

    Makes for a stimulating read. Thanks guys! I think I actually prefer reading what DSF has to say.

    Great article LT.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    6-8 new faces on parent club with 3-4 graduates from AHL likely. Gone probably Belanger (replaced by Lander ) , Whitney (replaced by Klefbom ) , Sutton (replaced by Marincin or Peckham ) , Khabby replaced by farm member (Roy ?) . Hordichuk and Eager gone and that totals six alone . Smithson and Jones would make 8 . I think I’ll temper my enthusiasm/expectations for next season .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The quality of the comments have dropped precipitously with the anti- and pro-DSF forces filling the comments with what amounts to spam. What I enjoyed most about this site in the past was the high calibre discussion that followed an article. Now…there is just too much nonsense to sort through to follow a serious in-comment discussion. Very disappointing.

    • 15w40

      Agreed. DSF and NewAgeSys are different types of Mosquitos that make it less enjoyable to come to ON. Please, is there some way we can add ignore or hide buttons?

      I am all for the spirit of open minded discussion, as there have been several posters on ON who I, or others, may have had different ideas, but the collegial give and take can be great for pushing the discussion forward in a meaningful way. Along with the quality of writers, thats what has always been great about your site. DSF is simply a troll and his posts lead to shouting matches that are no different from spam – and a waste of my time.

      I like the method of thumbs up/down on Freakonomics.com whereby the crowd can collectively police itself and much like graffiti artists, the trolls eventually leave when their work can’t be seen by the masses.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If Edmonton is fortunate to land the famed #6. Him and Klefbom would make an awesome pairing, much like the dominant pairing provided by Ms. Christina Hendricks.

    There’s no getting around those two. They’ll draw you in like a tractor beam, resistance would be futile. Damn you Christina!

    What were we talking about again?

  • Spydyr

    As long as Klefbom MAKES the team and is not ordained. Some higher ups are already saying he will be on the team next year. In the past too many players were given spots. Make everyone earn a spot.

  • 15w40

    If Klefbom is obviously in the top 5 defensemen at camp, then he should make the roster.

    If he is not then send him to OKC to get top 4 minutes in all situations.

    If he legitimately beats out an incumbent for the Oilers – then good for him.

    I get what is being said, in that if he does make the everyday roster that does likely speak to the current roster’s makeup.

    Unless of course he is actually THAT good.

    Here’s hoping!

  • 15w40

    Start him in the minors on the top pairing with marincin. I don’t care how good he is in camp, rookie seasons are roller coaster rides. Let him make mistakes in the ahl.

    • Czar

      With the time he missed and the transition to the NA style of play, how can you argue with this. As spydr said “In the past too many players were given spots. Make everyone earn a spot.” like most teams do.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Lets not forget Smid was a number 9 overall pick and Klefbom was 19 overall. Smid took 5 years to become an average defenseman so lets not get too high on Klefbom until he is making an impact at the NHL. The same people who are talking up Klefbom like he is a savior were saying the same thing about Anton Lander two years ago. Saying how he was part of the untouchable 5. Aka Bob Stauffer.

    • TeddyTurnbuckle

      I never understood the Lander hype. All I’ve seen outta him is a third line ceiling, and that hes a undersized below average skater. He competes though which you must appreciate.

      Klefbaum is a great skater and a good first pass guy. I truely believe we got a gem, if handled right.

  • 15w40

    I have no issue with Klefbom in the minors if that’s where he belongs.

    I don’t think you can just say he must be in the AHL no matter what. What does that say to the player.

    Its no different than the veterans being guaranteed a spot. “Come to camp, play hard but no matter what you are going to the minors”

    I’m not saying he needs to stay in the NHL for the entire season either but his position within the organization should be purely based on performance not on the pre-conceived notion that he isn’t good enough.