OSCAR NOMINATION

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.

THE KIDS KEEP ON ARRIVING!

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.

IT WORKED FOR BRODIN

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.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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.

  • DSF

    Would I love to see Shea in Oil Silks. I read on another post earlier today the Yak City could be in play for Weber.

    Trading away future Pavel Bure/ Alex Ovechkin type guy will make me puke.. Yak City will rule this league in a couple of years… Possibly as early as next season’

    • djc

      Yak City goes nowhere! Not even for Weber, we will groom our own defence no need to give up a future 35+ goal scorer…people who make proposals like that are morons or jealous fans from other teams (also morons)..Yak is a 1st overall pick..1st overalls are special, like that hot blonde dragonborn chick from Game of Thrones special, they are,irreplacable damnit!

    • Greg Stink | ESPN

      Yak City goes nowhere! Not even for Weber, we will groom our own defence no need to give up a future 35+ goal scorer…people who make proposals like that are morons or jealous fans from other teams (also morons)..Yak is a 1st overall pick..1st overalls are special, like that hot blonde dragonborn chick from Game of Thrones special, they are,irreplacable damnit!

  • DSF

    “However, this graph indicates that Suter is far more effective without Brodin than with–which makes sense based on their experience and ability.”

    I think you are misreading that chart.

    Suter with Brodin: 50.2CF%
    Suter without Brodin: 46.0CF%
    Brodin without Suter: 59.6CF%

    Brodin actually made Suter better and was better when apart from Suter.

  • DSF

    I’ve had the pleasure of watching Mr Oscar “the bomb” Klefbom live!!! This guy while he stands out amongst the kids… I don’t think he’s anywhere close to ready for the big Leagues!

    Mr. MacTavish couldn’t scout talent if it bit him in the arse.

    Mr. Streit as good as he is will be 37 years old this summer ladies and gentlemen. What the oilers need is a humongous splash!!!

    Maybe a Shea Weber.. Cough up 2 1st rounders Gags and a prospect or 2… Shea will bring Stanley home to Edmonton.

  • DSF

    The Texas Stars D killing the Barons.

    Jamie Oleksiak, Joe Morrow and Kevin Connauton all with points tonight.

    Considering they also have Jordie Benn and Brendan Dillon in the system, they look like they’ll be a force in the future.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Thanks for sharing. But most knowledgable hockey people consider that a pretty middling group of prospects. Connauton is from Edmonton, played for Spruce Grove. He was pretty decent in Tier 2 Junior, and we all thought he might have a pro career, but nothing about him suggests he’ll be”a force” in the future. Depth Dman maybe. Oleksiak isn’t as good as Martin Maricin, problems with footwork and speed with his large frame. May or may not make the jump. Jordie Benn? Come on DSF, he’e 26 and played a total of 29 NHL games. He has career minor leaguer written all over him. You’re mistaking him for his brother Jamie.

      Anyway, you’re welcome to your opinion such as it is. But anybody with any hockey knowledge would rate the Oiler D prospects (Klefbom, Marincin, Mucil, Gernat, and who knows, maybe Darnell Nurse) a much better group overall.

      And by the way, Texas and OKC are tied 1-1 after 2 games heading back to OKC. Both games were 2-1. “Killing” the Barons? Give your head a shake.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I’m torn on this Nurse issue. Are we better moving up and grab a Barkov or MacKinnon, or are we best to sit tight and wait a year or so for this Darnell Nurse guy?

        Scrolls up to look at Ms. Hendricks again

        We’d be in for hardly any roster changes going into next season taking Nurse and still be left without a 2nd line center. This could be the Oilers last opportunity to grab an elite potential player right from the apple tree, instead of having to pay dearly for one in a trade. Figure the top 10 selections in a draft should target elite potential offensive players, not these Nurse type players. What are we talking here for Nurse or Lazar, potential 3-5 blueliner and a second line best bet forward?

        I think we should be selling the farm for an opportunity to select Barkov or MacKinnon. Especially with management appearing prepared to surrender one of the fab 5 for a top pairing blueliner if the opportunity presents itself. Can the group that’s assembled here already afford to wait another yr or two for Darnell Nurse? The Oilers might be alright with what’s in the system already if they can plunder a top pairing blueliner from someone, a guy who can contribute starting yesterday.

        Scrolls up to look at Ms.Hendricks again

        If Nurse is all that’s hoped for in 3 yrs the Oilers will be okay, but if he doesn’t, this pick is just another blown opportunity during what has obviously become a difficult rebuild. Maybe if the Predators are in love with this Darnell Nurse, they could be swayed to swap picks with the Oilers, then everyone goes home happy.

  • Lexi

    All I ask is they do.what they think is best for Klefbom’s long term development next year. If they think he is ready for top 6 play, I have no problem with him playing here. If they think he is better playing some time in OKC than I would rather see Barker back than rushing him. I think Klefbom is by far the most important prospect they have and they can’t afford the mistakes they have made on guys like Lander and Tuebert. I sure hope someone’s job is to properly communicate to him what expectations are.

  • DSF

    Gleason and Streit would hardly be much of a step up.

    Streit is the #5D on the Islanders based on TOI/G in the playoffs.

    While he led the D in ice time in the regular season, he was also -14…by far the worst Islander D.

    Gleason was 5th on the Hurricanes in TOI/G and was nothing special.

    The Oilers are not going to improve their D by adding another layer of 4-6 defensemen who are getting close to their best before date.

    They need TWO top pairing defensemen, otherwise you’re just shuffling the deck chairs.

  • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

    @Lowetide,

    Mr. Lowetide, could you make a series that looks into the differences between the way the Barons are run and the way the Oilers are run?

    The Barons are in the second round for the second year in a row and have been given every chance to succeed as opposed to this gong show called “rebuild” for the last few years.

    What say you?

    • Lowetide

      The talent that OKC Barons have graduated (Petry, Schultz, Paajarvi, etc) will eventually do the same thing for the Oilers. The EIG dead zone for minor league development had a major impact, but they’re coming back!

      • OilLeak

        Are you sure you’re reading the WOWY chart for Brodin correctly? The numbers seem to indicate that Brodin’s CF% is greater without Suter than with him and Suter’s CF% takes a hit when not paired with Brodin. But hey, maybe I’m reading the chart incorrectly, if so then I need to shut up.

  • OilLeak

    Lowetide, you state:

    “One of the things Oiler fans should look for this summer is massive overhaul and improvement on the blue.”

    I hope you are right, but how is this possible, a massive overhaul and improvement? Obviously, there are a couple of promising defencemen on the farm and Klefboom. This may equate to a bit of an overhaul, but not a massive overhaul and improvement. A massive improvement would mean the replacement of four or five of the current D, with just Smid, Petry and J. Schultz returning.

    The NHL UFA pool of D is very shallow and probably expensive. Where do you expect MacTavish will find this talent?

    • Lowetide

      I think you start with Smid-Petry and Schultz the younger plus Nick Schultz. If the Oilers can add two defensemen to that group–real NHL defensemen–let’s say Tim Gleason and Mark Streit–then that’s a legit step up. I think the Oilers will have to make a trade, but the cap pressure for some of these teams may make some surprising names available.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Could one of Beiksa, Edler or Hamius be a surprising name? or will Canucks find enough cap relieve in moving Big Lou.

        I really hope they find a way to obtain a top two pairing type player.Right now the OIlers don’t have top two pairing.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Have to think the Canucks would be hard pressed to fill out that roster, even with Bieksa and Luongo out of the picture. Only way the can rid themselves of this Luongo conundrum, is if they pretty much give him away, something that will still be very difficult to do with that contract.

          We could see a rule breaking buyout here with Luongo. A buyout (new loophole) that doesn’t conform with the rules in the CBA. It could suddenly appear out of nowhere and help the Lecavaliers/Luongos of this league, allowing Roberto to be moved and enjoy the rest of his career.

  • Lowetide

    If I was allowed to cheat on my wife with one girl, it would be Christina Hendricks.

    Oh yeah, The Bomb will start in OKC hopefully, but I think he will be in Edmonton in a short time making tasty passes to the kids. I remember Bobby Mac quoting scouts who said he makes a better first pass and is better skater the Larsson. I can’t wait.

  • Lowetide

    Jim: Musil has been outstanding in this series. The ONLY question now is footspeed. I can see why the Oilers drafted him, if he can play at speed in the NHL that guy is going to be a monster

  • 24% body fat

    Here’s hoping he does well and sticks with the Oil! I’m curious though, why I haven’t been reading much about David Musil today. Last night’s performance was AWESOME!

  • Jay Gray

    How far along J.Schultz might be will determine Klefboms fate I suspect . Whom else we might acquire could leave him develop in AHL for a while . How fast can he adjust to NHL and N.American lifestyle ?