Oscar Klefbom might be most valuable to the Edmonton Oilers as a trade chip

It sounds decidedly counterintuitive. The Oilers need defencemen, so why would they trade a big 20-year-old blue-liner with a range of skills just as he’s learning the North American professional game?

There are reasons why it may make sense.

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The simple fact is that Edmonton desperately needs at least one top-pairing calibre defenceman. The modern incarnation of Chris Pronger would be the dream here, which is why Shea Weber’s name never dies, but that may not be possible and if it isn’t Edmonton has to fill the void somehow.

The names that might be available on the trade market are generally some distance south of Weber. Players like Christian Ehrhoff and Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien are the ones people speculate about; good, useful defenders either underrated by their current teams or playing out the string on a roster miles away from contending.

All of those guys have some warts, but all of them would represent a massive upgrade for an Edmonton team leaning on the trio of Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference and Justin Schultz. If MacTavish can’t bring in a Pronger, he needs to find at least a Boris Mironov or Janne Niinimaa or Roman Hamrlik. And given the meagre free agent pickings available, odds are good he’ll have to do it via trade.

Perfect Storm

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In this hypothetical trade for a good defenceman, Edmonton needs a package of certain quality to trade. It has to be good enough to get the other team interested. It has to be non-vital enough that it isn’t going to crush the team to lose it. And finally it needs to be fair value for the Oilers, a team that needs to put meat on the table for every shot they fire.

The 2014 first round draft pick might have fit those bills, but at this point the Oilers would need eight more points than they have just to get outside the top-five of the draft. It’s still a moveable piece, but the return on it needs to be something bigger than Mironov or Niinimaa and those returns are hard to land.

Some of the young forwards (Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) are too vital to make the list; the others (Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov) fall into the same boat as that 2014 pick, where the guy coming the other way needs to be a lot bigger than he’s likely to be. Sam Gagner’s tradable but opens up an ugly hole at centre, and the only plausible internal replacement has all of 32 career games under his belt.

What about Darnell Nurse? Team Canada may not be in love with him but he’s a 6’4” 18-year-old with a mean streak and a near point-per-game scoring run under his belt in junior this year. He’s not going to be good enough soon enough to plug the hole on defence himself, but he’s Edmonton’s best prospect by a country mile and a perfect fit for long-term need.

Which is where Klefbom comes in. He’s a good player, with that nice blend of skills and a combination of size and speed that’s awfully hard to find. He was a first round draft pick. So he has value. But at the same time, he’s also 27 games into his AHL career, 20 years old and a guy who barely played last season; he isn’t going to fix Edmonton’s blue line problems any time soon. He can move the puck but his offensive ability has a definite ceiling; he might evolve into a very, very good shutdown guy but that’s years away and not impossible to find. He’s a left-shooting defenceman on a team with Nurse, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson and Dillon Simpson, so the Oilers have both quality and depth at the position.

Put it all together and it’s hard not to wonder if Klefbom is moved at some point. He has enough value to be the key asset in return for a good NHL player, much like he was when Edmonton moved Dustin Penner out. His absence doesn’t hurt the Oilers now, and they have a wealth of prospects at the position. And while an excellent prospect he’s not the kind of player likely to embarrass the team by winning a Norris Trophy five years down the road.

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Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Wohin gehst du?

    I think Buffalo would take Gagner for Steve Ott straight and if Im MacT, I do that in 1.5 seconds. Ott, a ufa, becomes the C to monitor Thornton, Getz and the other big C’s in our division.

    Next, do whatever the heck is necessary to land Webber, I think Eberle/Klefbom will do it.

    Once you have Webber, then I honestly think we use J. Schultz as an asset to move out for a golden C….im thinking, J. Shultz/Alice/#2 for Coutourier/Simmonds

    so we have added:

    Ott, Webber, Coutourier and Simmonds and we delete gagner, alice, eberle, kelfbom….now that is frickin bold and our team is meteorically better.

        • PutzStew


          Ok Start with Hall or RNH….

          Add a Nurse…..or maybe a Klefbom…

          Probably a first rounder….I would want 2014 myself…maybe both 2013 and 2014….

          and you might need to include a second rounder…maybe Yak….or Ebs…Gagner…Petry….who knows….

          Just think “What would Philly give up for Webber?”…..Or NYR?…..San Jose?….Etc……Now you have to beat that.

          Eberle is a decent player but not impact enough to be the major part of the trade. Shultz…Same, but worse. Klefbom. He’s not even an impact in the AHL and has barely played in the past two seasons. And this years first isn’t going to be worth that much, unless it is #1 or #2.

          Before you folks make these silly proposals please stop and try to imagine yourself as a fan of the other team….I know it may be hard because no other team has sucked as bad as the Oilers in a really long time….but think to yourself “Would I be willing to accept those Oilers Players in return for this player?”

          This line of thinking will make a few of you look much more knowledgeable than you are causing yourselves to look.

          • Weber aside, what makes you think a player like Hall or RNH needs to be moved to get a #1 defenseman?

            They have been traded before, so why don’t you take a second and look at what high end defenseman usually go for.

            hint: It is NEVER players like Hall and RNH.

            I agree that Weber is likely not on the table right now, but your apparent belief that everyone else is an idiot because they don’t think it will cost Hall to get a top shelf defenseman is absurd.

          • PutzStew

            The conversation does not involving a # 1 dman, it is involving Webber and Webber’s value is going to be much higher then most number one Dmen.

            Thinking you could steal Webber for anything less then one of Hall or RNH is absurd.

            And no I don’t think everyone is an idiot, just people thinking they are going to win a sweepstakes for Webber, using bit parts. If you read the comments I’m not the only one that thinks so.

            Here something fun. Fnd some Nashville blog sites and offer them Eberle, Klefbom and this years first for Webber.

            Let me know how you make out.

          • I take it then that you had no luck finding a trade like the one you are suggesting?

            So essentially your position is that Weber would be the best defenseman ever traded in the NHL so if he was traded it would be like no other trade we have ever seen?

    • PutzStew

      Lets start here.

      Ott will be a good deadline pick up and someone will probably over pay for him. Gagner needs to be behind a good top center so Buffalo isn’t a good place for him.

      See above about Webber.

      And why would Philly want Shultz? Especially if Webber is available. Do you really think Nashville would juts let the Oilers know that Webber is available? Do you think they fell sorry for Edmonton and would just give Webber away, with out seeing what else was being offered??? Or that Philly would settle with Shultz as a runner up gift???

      How about this….I will give you a 2x$5bills for one $20bill?

      Come on. You get 2 for the price of one. I’ll only do it for you though because you are special.

  • Spydyr

    Everyone not named Hall or Nuge should be on the table. As long as you get a equal return and fill one of the many needs on the team.

    You have to give up quality to get quality.

    ~Besides Omark was traded so him and Gagner can no longer get you Weber.~

  • This is totally off topic, BUT….

    Does anyone else wonder, just a little, if maybe Gagner isn’t playing so terribly this season on purpose? He’s always been thrown up as trade bait, and once he got his NTC for next season..

    Maybe he realized that since he apparently wants to stay in Edmonton, the only way to really be sure he wasn’t getting shipped out of town before his NTC kicked in, was to tank his value. The injury helped, for sure, but he’s been playing far below form for even him

  • vetinari

    Is it glue-sniffing season already in Edmonton?
    Who’d be breaking down the doors for a Dman who can’t stay healthy and has 10 career points in (far) lesser leagues?
    The NHL’s competent GMs are not eager to relieve The Mickey Mouse Club of its draft mistakes.
    Or is somebody going to point out that Klefbom’s corgis in close against tough Fenwicks on 5×5 zone starts are more important than his “counting numbers”?

  • PutzStew

    I only read a few comments but that was enough.

    Eberle, Prospect and Pick will not get you Weber. Thats not even up for debate.

    Don’t forget there would be 29 teams in on the bidding. One of those would have to be Philly too. What do you think they would give up to get him.

    So if if I was Nashville, I would be asking Hall/RNH, Nurse and this years 1st for Weber.

    If you think different then keep drinking the Koolaid. At then least you will have an excuse for not having a clue.

    • A-Mc

      That’s likely what they would be asking for, but it’s not something that would get done.

      1st overall, 7th overall and likely top 3 overall, all likely to make 6m+/yr (by todays standards) for Weber? No way.

      I guess I’m drinking the Koolaid, but i think at least 1 of those pieces needs to be of lower caliber than top 10 pick: ie: Ebs, Klef and our 1st.

      • PutzStew

        So when making a trade, teams base the grading of potential player on their draft position.

        That would mean PVR would be higher then Webber.

        Just saying.

        My point is that Philly was willing to give up 4 first round picks to get Webber. They even tried to sweeten the pot to get him. If he is available, what do you think they would give Nashville to get him? The only one I think they would not trade, would be Giroux.

        So lets see. If I was Nashville….how about Couturier, Coburn, Voracek….picks…..prospects…..??? I don’t think Philly will hold back if they have a chance to get Webber.

        So my point is that you have to beat someone like Philly if you are going to win a sweepstakes for Webber, you are not going to be able to skimp. Edmonton would have to be all in to get him. Eberle, Klefbom and this years first is not all in.