What to do with Oscar?

It is hard to find a person to who doesn’t think that that Oscar Klefbom is a very good prospect to play in the NHL. Most seem to think he is the best prospect the Oilers have in their system currently not playing in the NHL. There is no doubt the Oilers have a need for top end defenceman but how soon should they find out if Oscar is the guy to do that?

Swedish Defencemen

Let’s start with what we know for sure. Oscar missed the whole season last year except for ten games or so. He had surgery to fix his shoulder injury. By all reports he has had a good rehab time and is feeling strong and ready to go. So we know he is healthy and ready to play this season.

We know he grew up playing in Sweden. I have firsthand knowledge with the way the Swedes develop their players. It is very organized with solid coaching both on and off the ice.

I was there during the World Championships and I spoke to many Swedish coaches. The approach taken by the whole country is to build good young talented players. There are many camps for all different abilities throughout the country. I got the impression they don’t want to overlook late bloomers (as a side note are we doing the same here in Canada?)

When Swedish players come over to North America I find the bulk of them to be good professionals. They are mature because they left home quite early to go and play in one of the top two hockey leagues there. Instead of having billets like junior aged players here, the young Swedes move into their own places given to them by the teams they play for. Imagine the responsibility of living on your own at seventeen or eighteen? Most of you could barely make yourself breakfast.

They are mature as men and also as players. I always found them to be in good shape and have a pretty good understanding of the way to play hockey, an overall game. They understand the value of working out and commit to it.


I expect Oscar to be all of these things to go along with the talent he possesses. We also know he missed basically the whole season last year. Call me old school but players develop by playing. I do not believe they can develop by watching. Maybe as they get older a night or two in the press box helps but when young, they need the ice time and games.

For this reason I think it is a no brainer for Oscar to start in the minors with the Barons. Let him adjust to the game of hockey in the smaller rink not under the bright lights of the NHL and the Edmonton Oiler faithful. The game happens a lot quicker because of the lack of space.

I would expect him to play in all situations down there, with lots of minutes. He doesn’t have to stay down there the whole year. If he plays well bring him up for a taste of the NHL. I have never heard of a hockey player’s career being derailed because he spent some time in the AHL when he could have been in the NHL.

I think time in the AHL is very good for young players. It gives them a sense of what it could be like if they don’t make the NHL. Riding the buses all over North America, less pay and crazy schedules definitely gave me a little more motivation and understanding about how good the life in the NHL is compared with the AHL.

I think the Nashville Predators are one of the top teams in the NHL when it comes to developing d-men. They have developed two of the top d-men currently in the league, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. They both played in the AHL. I looked at the roster they had in Nashville and I am sure both could have started in the NHL. The Preds made the decision to send them to the AHL.

Both Suter and Weber put up very good numbers in the AHL while there which you would expect. Their confidence grew. They were taught how to play the game in the minors and carried that into the NHL.

I don’t know if Oscar will become either one of those two players but if they can play in the minors and have success why can’t Oscar? In my mind there is no reason for him to start in the NHL. The Oilers have lots of depth at the position, let Oscar find his way a solid NHL career at his own pace.

Recently by Jason Strudwick

  • Where's Your Towel

    Shoulder Surgery! He’s already clearly an Oiler without playing a single game!

    In my opinion, all the depth D that MacT has added this summer should do a good job of keeping Oscar in the minors at least the first half of the season. This is as it should be. Coaches and management should be looking for Klefbom to show he belongs in the NHL by dominating actual professional hockey games, not training camp and pre-season.

    It’s sort of hard to make out from here, but if you squint a little, you can see a day where Schultz the Younger and Klefbom make for two very bright lights on the blue line for a long, long time.

    • Avatarget

      The shoulder surgery thing caught my attention too. It seems to be a disturbing trend for Oilers to suffer shoulder injuries. I can recall Hall, Hemsky, RNH, and now Kelfboom. Are there others to add to this list of Oilers having had shoulder surgery?

  • Agreed about the AHL. Imho, people are getting way ahead of themselves by thinking he’ll jump in the NHL lineup right out of camp. Not a likely scenario with all the hockey he missed. AHL time will be good for him.

  • The Last Big Bear

    2 things….

    1) Agreed on all points.

    2) Quoting Struds: “I have never heard of a hockey player’s career being derailed because he spent some time in the AHL when he could have been in the NHL.”

    Here’s one: Brent Bilodeau.

    Local kid was drafted in 1991 and was expected to make the Habs out of training camp as a rookie. The Habs said publicly that he had earned a spot, but wanted to season him in the minors. Never played a game in the show.
    (Currently a coach with Tri-City in the dub).

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    A season if needed in OKC is not a bad thing. The descision tree for the Oilers is going to be tough if OK comes in and actually plays up to his billing. Imagine if that happens. Someone in the front office will be in tough to make a descision to keep OK here at the beginning of the season. Belov and Grebo better come in and be ready man up . Or else.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Klefblom is the real deal.

    I agree that he should be left in OKC, but it would be hard for the Oilers to ruin him at this point, I think.

    And there are about 500 other middle and bottom pairing defencemen signed by the team, so there’s no rush to add another.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    Give him a year in

    The A, just to get used to

    smaller ice surface

    Well, that and the speed of the game over here. Not to discount that he only played 10 or so games last year. A year in OKC wouldn’t be a bad thing for Oscar*

    *and us as well, think about the Lowetide articles on Oscar featuring Miss OKLA) (HOMA

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m hoping he starts the season here, with a much stronger group of players surrounding him. Don’t see any value putting him in harms way with all the rif raf that’s floating around in OKC and the rest of the AHL.

    The Oil are notorious for rushing prospects in these darkest of days. Perhaps he’s one kid who’ll benefit greatly from playing with more NHL ready players like on the Oilers main squad. Throw the kid in the deep end, he’ll be fine. The kid looks to be all sportscar anyways, not a rusted out work truck. Real him in now and play him with Ference.

    If Justin Schultz hadn’t played 45 nothing games in the AHL last season, maybe he wouldn’t have been spent/worn out with 30 games to go last season. Try and squeeze 40-45 games out of Klefbom during the coming season. A few games in the press box would do him good if he’s overwhelmed at any point. Pairing him up with a Plante or a Tuebert type in a second rate league would just be a colossal waste of time.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Dude are you high when you post here? Or do you have to go against the grain on everything? You would seriously be in the running for trash it votes. At least DSF has good points positive and negative. All you do is spew negativity.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        If 26th, 30th,30th,29th and 24th is above criticism, then i’m sorry i’m not one of the sheep around here like yourself. It may not be the truth in your wiggly world, but it is accurate in mine.

        Where did the Oilers finish last season, in your mind that is, will you spew me some truth too, brother?

  • The Last Big Bear

    He”ll bolt out of the gate and compliment Shultz with 28 goals this year , to go with Schultz’s 41 . What a dynamic duo . Schultz makes 40 club with 4 other Oilers this sesson . Hopkins , Yakupov , Eberle and Hall . In the thirties are Perron , Hemsky and Gagner . ” Goodness , gracious , great balls of fire “. Sure beats all the defeatist talk so prevalent on ON site .

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Suter did play in the AHL, but it was during the season missed due to the lockout. I don’t know that he would have played in the NHL that first year as a pro anyways, but he never had the opportunity given the lockout.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The wise choice is the AHL for at least the first 2/3 of the season.

    MacT has said repeatedly that Klef would benefit from the AHL.

    MacT brought in 40,000 LD making it near impossible for Klef to make the team out of camp. He basically insured against the team making a hasty, bad bet.

    If Ricky O has got his s*%$ together he’ll have told MacT that if Klef plays less than 50 (IIRC) regular season games his RFA status gets pushed back a year. This is a huge contractual advantage down the road.

    Give him a strong cup, 20 games or so, but no more.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    There is a contractual benefit for the Oilers if they leave Klefbom in the minors for most of the year – they gain an RFA year if Klefbom is off the NHL roster for enough games.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    OK is not a slam dunk to be an NHLer as most people are speculating. We’ve seen tons of guys that looked like they would be shoo ins that never made the nHL. SO get rid of all the irrational opptomism.
    oK has had shoulder surgery and as you know it takes eve a regular NHLer many months of playing to get back to their game level before the surgery…expect the same from Oscar.
    I think with the lost season and playing on smaller ice will make it a real challenge for OK to immediatley excel…he’ll need time and coaching. I would expect him to reamain in the AHL all year except for a cup of coffee near the end.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    From Article 1 of the CBA:

    ” “Accrued Season” means any League Year during which a Player was on a Club’s Active Roster for 40 (30 if the Player is a goalie) or more regular Season Games, provided that, for the purposes of calculating an Accrued Season under this Agreement, games missed due to a hockey-related injury incurred while on a Club’s Active Roster shall count as games played for purposes of calculating an Accrued Season but only during the League Year in which the injury was incurred and a maximum of one additional season.”

    • Romulus' Apotheosis


      40 games is a lot of games. They can nearly play him the entire second half of the season and still hold on to an extra RFA year.

      With the LD depth MacT has acquired he’d be crazy not to leave Klefbom in the AHL (regardless of his play) until at least near the deadline, when presumably N. Schultz leaves town (if he hasn’t already before then).

    • Tikkanese

      I thought it was 9 games. Maybe this changed in the new CBA, but I thought that was why Buffalo got so beat up last year for their (mis)handling of Grigorenko – they didn’t send him down after the 9 games, but he only played 25 and spent several in the pressbox. No development benefit plus burned a year of his ELC.

      If that is still the case, I’d like to see Klef get his 9 in at some point, but he should definitely spend most of the year in the A

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        9 games is for the 1st year of an ELC to kick in. That applies whether he plays NHL or AHL, basically pro (though I’m not sure about ECHL).

        Klef will break his pro cherry this year, barring injury. That’s not an issue.

        It is easy to confuse the two (I’ve done it more than twice), but at issue here isn’t his ELC, but his RFA/UFA status.

        When a player hits UFA status depends on how many “accrued seasons” he has under his belt (and probably a few other conditions).

        Basically, if Klef doesn’t play more than 40 games (regular season) this year, he won’t go UFA for an extra year. If he plays more, he goes UFA a year earlier.

        Considering how much players can command from the UFA market, this is a big deal.

      • The 9 game mark and 40 game mark are for different things.

        The 9 game mark applies to 18 and 19 year olds, and affects whether that player will see his ELC start. Klefbom’s ELC starts whether he is in the NHL or AHL because he is 20.

        The 40 game mark relates to a player’s UFA status, not his ELC. Players become a UFA after either 7 “Accrued Seasons” or once they are 27 (for CBA purposes), whichever comes first.

        Because of Klefbom’s birthday, it is possible that he could become a UFA later than the majority of his draft class. Klefbom was born in the July 1 – Sept 15 window, which means it’s a bit different for him.

        If he were born on June 20, 1993, he would be a UFA in the summer of 2020. Because he was born July 20, 1993, he’s not 27 (for CBA purposes) in the summer of 2020; he’ll be 27 in the summer of 2021. That means that if Klefbom doesn’t get credit for an “accrued season” this year he would not either (a) be 27 in summer 2020 or (b) have 7 years experience in the summer of 2020, and wouldn’t be a UFA until 2021.


        Interestingly (to me, anyways), this “loophole” is why Weber was an RFA last summer instead of a UFA. Had NSH kept him in the NHL for all of 05/06, he would have been a UFA in the summer of 2012.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t actually have to play 40 games – he only has to be on the roster for 40 games. And games on the IR count, so if Klefbom happened to be on the roster in October and get injured, those games while he’s on the IR would count.

    EDM can leave Klefbom in the AHL through the end of January, and if Klefbom is dominating call him up for a few game prior to the Olympic break/trade deadline to see how he looks at the NHL level prior to the stretch run.

  • Tikkanese

    That’s what I get for assuming. Re-reading the CBA definition of “Active Roster”, games missed while on the IR might not count towards the 40 games required for an “Accrued Season”, but games missed due to injury while not on the IR do appear to count.

    If anyone with access to EDM’s management is reading this comment and has a chance to clarify this, it would be greatly appreciated!

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      “ctive Roster shall include all Players on a Club’s Reserve List who are signed to an approved and registered SPC, subject to the provisions of Article 11, who are not on the Injured Reserve List, Injured Non-Roster, designated Non-Roster, or Loaned. A Player who is on a Conditioning Loan is included on a Club’s Active Roster. ”


      I’m no good at interpreting legalese. But my gloss seems to suggest that for the games to count, a player must be injured, but still on the roster, so basically smaller injuries that don’t force the team to put a player on the IR.

      Something like that?

  • Tikkanese

    Don’t forget he’s coming from the big european ice size down to the NHL sized rink. That plus the fact he missed most of last year, plus some of the year before as well, time in the minors would be well advised.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    As always with prospects, the best interests of the team are a balance between prospect development and team benefit.

    If Klefbom is going to develop better in the AHL and won’t be good enough to beat out anyone in the top 6 it’s a no brainer he should start in the AHL.

    If he will develop faster in the AHL but can legitimately cracking the top 6 it’s a balancing act, and probably it’s not a bad idea all round to split his season and ship out one of the depth defenders he beats out at the trade deadline.

    The scenario where he legitimately slots in the top 4 but would be best served by spending time in the minors seems impossible. He’s played pro already and if he’s a top 4 to start the season I’m not clear on what he would get out of a stint in the minors. If he’s needing time to get adjusted and to get back on his game then he would be only close to top four duties and a short stint makes sense.

    But I don’t know how anyone can make that call until we see what we got.

  • Supernova

    “Call me old school”

    OK you are old school.

    I wish the Oilers were as well in their development route.

    Even the first half season in the AHL wouldnt be a bad thing.

  • If the kid is good enough and earns his place then he should stay and play in the NHL.

    It’s about being a competitive team and moving forward, if he is better then someone in the line up then that person should lose his spot.

  • Zipdot

    ” I have never heard of a hockey player’s career being derailed because he spent some time in the AHL when he could have been in the NHL.”

    Linus Omark?


  • Admiral Ackbar

    Relax, kid has some growing to do in the AHL. He’s not yet good/savvy enough for the big leagues. Hopefully he gets a 10 game taster at some point.