Well, that was fast. On Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers recalled Oscar Klefbom and Anton Lander from the Oklahoma City Barons.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 8, 2014
The emergency recall requires the Oilers to be below a roster of 12 healthy forwards (in the case of Lander) and six healthy defencemen (in the case of Klefbom). That’s not a hard bar for the Oilers to reach, as they had only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defenceman post-deadline. Article 13.12 (m)(ii) of the CBA allows the league to ask for proof of emergency circumstances if there’s any suspicion otherwise.
As for the recalls, both of these players are guys that the Oilers have great interest in seeing at the NHL level.
Lander is a player who hasn’t been overly impressive in a depth role in the NHL but who has really taken a stride forward in the AHL this year. He’s scoring at better than a point-per-game pace and appears to have evolved into an elite two-way pivot, at least at the minor league level.
There’s a belief within the organization that Lander may be a significantly better player than he’s shown to date in the majors, and given that he’s in his final year of waiver exemption the organization needs to determine whether that is in fact the case. It wouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, if he were to play above the fourth line during this major-league stint.
As for Klefbom, there are a lot of parallels with Martin Marincin. Klefbom, like Marincin, has a big frame and exceptional skating, but if anything he’s perhaps a little faster than Marincin and he certainly plays a heavier game (while Marincin is tall but rail-thin, Klefbom is playing at north of 215 pounds this year). The flip side is that Klefbom’s had a steep North American learning curve this year, and while he’s made major progress his reads still need some work.
But some of the same things could have been said about Marincin, and his physical talents have made him arguably Edmonton’s best defenceman since his recall. The hope, obviously, is that Klefbom can make the same jump and that his raw talent will make up for any deficiencies owing to inexperience.
That Klefbom, and not Taylor Fedun, was the recall choice likely suggests an organizational view that Fedun isn’t likely to evolve into an everyday NHL player, whereas Klefbom’s ceiling is significantly higher. Testing Klefbom now gives them an idea of his readiness for next season and will certainly inform where he slots into the depth chart next fall.
These are extremely important recalls, and the ramifications are likely to be greater than they would be normally. The Oilers are done this season, and the decision to recall Lander and Klefbom over Arcobello and Fedun is almost certainly related to a desire to establish where the former players fit into next year’s plans.
Edmonton already knows what Arcobello is, and fairly or not seem to have made up their collective mind on Fedun, too (multiple people within the organization have told me that Fedun is likely to top out as the ‘tweener he is right now).
That isn’t true for Lander, whose AHL performance has dictated another look. The door is open right now for a long-term NHL role with the Oilers; it’s now up to the coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed and to Lander to take advantage of the opportunity. Lander’s waiver eligibility next season means that the window between now and the end of the year might be his last, best chance to grab an NHL job.
Klefbom isn’t under the same level of pressure, because there’s lots more road ahead of him, but competition for the rookie jobs on the Oilers’ blue line is fierce. Even with a relatively weak defence corps, there is only so much room for young players, and with Marincin reasonably established and others like Darnell Nurse and perhaps even Aaron Ekblad entering the picture, the time for Klefbom to impress is now. He can help his chances of making the jump next season much easier with a strong showing here.
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