Elite Oscar

klef abs

Oscar Klefbom is an integral part of the Oilers young
cluster of players because he is one of the few defensemen among them. He has a
set of qualities that make him stand out and are easy to recognize. Klefbom is an
incredible skater, he has NHL size, he can move the puck relatively well, and
he looks like he’s been photoshopped. Some of his other qualities are more
difficult to recognize and some new technology might be what helps us see them
more clearly.

Sportlogiq is a company that specializes in visual tracking
software. They have, purportedly, developed a software that uses game footage
to track events that previously required rigorous manual tracking or otherwise
might require embedded chip technology. Here is how they describe their product

Backed by over seven years of university research, our
technology generates advanced hockey analytics using standard, single-camera
game footage. Our proprietary computer vision system uses a combination of
player tracking and activity recognition algorithms to flag specific game
events such as shots or passes, timestamp them, and record their xy coordinates
on the ice. Once the raw data is collected, machine learning and pattern
recognition techniques are utilized to extract meaningful insights, allowing
broadcasters, teams, analysts and fans see and understand the game in a way
previously not possible.

In addition to developing this technology they
also produce editorial content discussing some of their findings. Now, any time
we are dealing with the findings of proprietary information we are talking
about something we have no access to. We can’t verify this information in any
meaningful way, so keep that in mind. The hockey analytics community has always
been wary of new information that cannot be peer reviewed. As a once-upon-a-time
academic I am also skeptical of things I can’t look into myself, but what that
means for us is that we can’t assert this information is true beyond a
shadow of a doubt.

Sportlogiq recently posted an article by Andrew Berkshire, their Manager of Editorial Content, regarding
Oscar Klefbom and his defensive abilities. You can read that piece here. It seems as
though our favourite abdominal enthusiast is particularly adept at removing the
puck from opposition sticks. As per their information, Klefbom is the best
defenseman in the NHL at this particular skill. Below is their table showing
Klefbom at 16 successful defensive touches per 20 minutes while the league
average is a shade under 10. The exact numbers for other Oiler defenders are
not provided but the article says that by their information the next two best
Oiler blueliners at removing possession were Petry and Marincin.


When traditional hockey analysts talk about Klefbom being
able to break up the cycle, this is in part the kind of information they are
talking about. Indeed that is one of the qualities that has been ascribed to
Klefbom by people inside the organization and this might be a way to help
quantify statements like that. By eye or by number what’s clear is that the franchise appears to have found a gem in the former 19th overall pick of the 2011 draft. We could see last season that Klefbom was the defensive conscience of his pairing with Schultz. What we might not have realized was that he was performing well above the league average.

One thing I’m not sure I agree with about the article is the
statement regarding Klefbom’s one-dimensionality. He certainly needs more than
a solid half-season in the NHL to prove it, but I think we were starting to see
Klefbom become more confident in the offensive zone as time wore on. As per
stats.hockeyanalysis.ca Klefbom lead the Oilers blueline in 5v5 Points per 60 minutes,
was second in First Assists per 60 minutes, and second in Shots
per 60 minutes. There is at least some indication that he could do a lot more
than simply shut people down.

Certainly we are hoping that as Klefbom continues to develop
as a defender he will keep pushing his offensive abilities as well as his
already apparent defensive ones. With the addition of Sekera and Nurse knocking
on the door Klefbom finds himself in a position where he won’t have to do it
all himself. If the Oilers didn’t waste all of their luck on April 18th
then this might be a great environment for the young Swede to grow in.

  • Been there

    Always have liked him, plays a complete game, and personally I was baffled they never gave him more pp time last year, especially once out of contention. He has a very good shot,

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Good to see you coming around.

    I’ve said for months Klefbom is a gem. But its not really the cycle that he’s breaking to get this stat. As I said back in the spring he has one of if not the best sticks in the league. He doesn’t make huge hits but purposeful hits. It’s text book. Stick on puck. Body on man. Remove puck and get it up the ice. He is a legit top pair NOW. Guys saying he’s not clearly have not watched him.

  • The Goalie 1976

    Most amazing thing I’ve seen Klefbom do was at last year’s Bears / Rookies game. He knocked down a shot aimed at icing the puck out of the offensive zone, and scored with a rocket from the point, pretty much in all one motion.

    After watching that game, Klefbom and Nurse reminded me of Nuge and Hall. Nuge hardly ever looks like he’s trying, Hall always looks like he’s trying. My guess is that coming up in junior, Hall could simply out-skate or out talent the opposition. Similarily, Nurse relies a lot on his physicality and skating to take over games, but that meant he was kind of all over the place, trying to be everywhere at once and do everything at once. Nurse, by comparison was a lot more cerebral and seemed to have his next two moves planned out before getting to the puck.

    All in all, I’m excited to see just how far both can develop, and am not yet sure who will end up being the more dominant defenceman.

      • It could also be that the Oilers defence was so bad, terrible players looked good.

        Seriously, other than Chris Pronger name one single Oiler to be traded during the rebuild who is now lighting it up.

        Gilbert: meh.

        Petry: sure Montreal wanted to resign him for the same money people said he should have gotten here, but did anyone watch how many of his giveaways in the playoffs lead to goals against? I counted at least two, and I wasn’t following the series that close.

        Ganger: Best of luck to the guy, but not sad he’s gone.

        Hemsky, one 77 point season does not an elite player make.

        Horcoff: Bottom 4 C on any other team it seems.

        Cogliano: okay, that one would be nice to have back.

        Dubnyk: I would call mistake if not for the fact three other teams also traded the guy. It remains to be seen if he can repeat his performance. If so, I’ll eat my words, for now, let’s wait and see.

        Stoll: Given his current status…

        And finally, if they would have done anything different, maybe no Hall, Nuge, Ebs, McDavid. Marincin could be a solid bottom pairing guy, but better than Klefbom, Nurse, Reinheart, Sekera, Fayne? I’m not so sure about that.

        • Spoils

          Stoll was a really useful player in LA. 2 cups, on for key faceoffs on the reg.

          Dubnyk wasn’t just the trade it was the amount of rubber forced on him early on in his career. still his pedigree is good enough that i would have tried a reboot in the minors rather than selling him for a bag of pucks.

          Hemsky and Petry should have been traded earlier or packaged as sweetners rather than allowing so much of their value to dissipate before we moved them.

          Horcoff is not the greatest player but for Larsen and a seventh pick? not enough.

          no. our mgt was weak

          • mcjesus take the wheel

            What a bunch of BS!

            The vast majority on here were praising the Dubnyk trade. And he stunk for 3 other teams prior to getting back on track.

            Hemsky should have been traded during Tambellini years.

            And again with Horcoff most were praising Mact just for getting rid of the contract.

            The flip flop opinions in hind sight never stop with you guys.

        • camdog

          So I assume you are happy they traded those players away…..

          At the end of the day management incompetence led to high draft picks as the team continued to under perform. That is a terrible way to build a contender – 9 seasons and counting.

          Having said that, we are in a terrific position with a large number of highly skilled, very young players. Fortunately, management at least had the competency of my mother-in-law and made very good 1st round draft picks.

          With all of this young talent and good management, the next 5 years is going to be awesome as, unlike Yankees fans, Oiler fan expectations are pretty modest. Will we make the playoffs this year? Fingers crossed.

      • JackB

        Also, Chiarelli hadn’t got to know the players yet, and he was listening to MaT (who didn’t like Marincin because he wouldn’t “bulk up” in the offseason)

  • The Goalie 1976

    I really like Klefbom, always have. He’s pretty close to a complete defender, very valuable.

    The trouble I have is that Reinhart has most of the same qualities, and I don’t understand why Oil fans love Klef but hate Griffin.

    They are both good cycle busters, strong, great defenders, make good outlet passes, and both have underrated point shots.

    klefbom is a better skater, thats for certain, and he is 1 to 1.5 years ahead in development, and probably has a higher ceiling just based on how great a skater Klef is.

    I’m happy to have both of them, and added to Nurse will form a fantastic core of 3 for defense.

    I’ve just never understood the negativity towards Griffin. He seems like the type of player Oilersnation would love.

    • JackB

      “I’ve just never understood the negativity towards Griffin. He seems like the type of player Oilersnation would love”

      Oilersnation will grow to love him . . . just like the Oil Kings fans did. Will just take a little time.

      • The Goalie 1976

        I hope so too.

        I just remember that last season was Klef’s coming out party, and he even spent time in the minors.

        I suspect Griffin will have a similar season this year, and next off-season we’ll be complaining how he should have make the team out of camp but they kept Ference and Nikitin instead.

    • The Goalie 1976

      I think the a Reinhart skepticism is because a lot of fans see it as the last crap decision that the old boys club management were able to squeak in on their way out the door. Also, we’ve seen Teubert and Barker up close and are afraid we’ve got a similar commodity in Reinhart. Personally, though, I never ever cheer against a player who is a part of this team. I really hope Griffin succeeds.

      • The Goalie 1976

        Yeah I get that. I really like Klef too, he’s the real deal.

        I was just commenting that everyone was in love with Klef years before his NHL success. Yet we are given Griffin, who stylisticly is quite a similar player type, and nobody seems to like him.

        Kinda a strange double standard I just am noticing.

        • The Goalie 1976

          We traded an actual NHL player (Penner) for the pick that turned into Klefbom.

          We traded two draft picks for Reinhart.

          We’ve been conditioned to place greater value on draft picks than NHL players. That’s, fundamentally, what it comes down to.

        • mcjesus take the wheel

          Lol if you think they are stylistically the same there is no hope for you. Grif is no where near the skater Klef is. And in today’s NHL we are seeing mobility above all as being paramount.

          • The Goalie 1976

            In 2 previous comments I clearly noted that the difference is Klef is a very strong skater, thus has a higher ceiling.

            Otherwise they do share many of the same qualities

    • Joy S. Lee

      I agree that Klefbom and Reinhart play very similar styles. Which begs the question, would they be an outstanding tandem playing together, or the defensive conscience on a pairing with a more offensive-minded partner?

      I would be eager to see them as the Oilers’ second pairing for a while – virtual rookies, yes, but they are both defensively aware – and with Sekera-Fayne as the reliable first pairing, the Oilers high-octane offense suddenly has a reliable core at the back end with a reliable goalie. A completely different world than we’ve been living in since the days Pronger and Roli left.

      Wonder if I get to gloat… I predicted Klefbom would be the Oilers #1 defenseman by the end of last season, before it even began. I held to it when he was sent to the minors early on. I predicted he would be a star in the NHL the day after they drafted him and I watched a game I had taped involving Sweden and Canada in the WJC that year. What I saw was a guy who does crossovers with an ease and grace that big guys seldom master, and a power in his stride that almost sent shivers down my spine. He made a play around his own net with a Canadian forechecker in hot pursuit that I would wager very few NHL defensemen could have made. And made it look easy. When he was the Swedish coaches choice as THE leader of their gold-medal winning team in the next WJC, it was apparent that the kid had oodles of character to go with the talent I’d seen.

      He’s calm and steady, he’s determined, he’s big, he’s a leader, and he can play. I can hardly wait til he starts taking that skating ability and charging up the ice with the puck or to receive the puck. I figure that is how he will evolve next.

      Griffin Reinhart is calm and steady, he’s determined, he’s big, he’s a leader, and he can play. He can’t skate like Klefbom, but he can control a game like Klefbom. I think Oil Country will warm up to Griffin just fine, but it may take the better part of the season for his better qualities to shine through, since he’s not flashy. I know that I marvelled at the impact Reinhart had in the Oil King march to and through the Memorial Cup. And no one that dominant at the highest levels of junior hockey, in the biggest games at that level, should be written off. And that’s besides the Reinhart pedigree.

      If they are writing off Griffin Reinhart, they’re making a mistake. I haven’t seen him play in a while, but I know what I saw when I did. They will, too; soon enough.

  • Harry2

    Klefbom is an animal. Not only his skill on the ice but clearly hes dedicated off of it. The recovery time he displays for injuries is insane.

    Sign him to a Josi type extension asap!

  • 24% body fat

    Klefbom should get a 5 year extension for Christmas.

    What a great stat!! MacT saw him in Europe and the first play was muscling the forward, grabbing the biscuit and smoothly passing it up ice. Oiler fans can handle that all day long.

    Sign him for 5 before I start thinking 6.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Sorry: Sather stated the Talbot trade was done cause of the agreement he had with MacT at trade deadline. Goalie market was dead and he was unable to squeeze more out of other teams so he went with the oilers.

    52% of even goals are scored on the 5-8 HCS (box) in a game. The league average for High scoring chance against/60 by defence is 15.00 HSCA/60.

    Dmen that have been better than League average for HSCA/60 starting from 05-06 on.

    #1 Pronger 80gm 11.04 HSCA/60

    #2 MAB 129gm 12.82 HSCA/60 he will be remembered for the one bad one he allowed.

    #3 Hedja 39gm 13.37 HSCA/60

    #4 Tarnstrom 13.97 HSCA/60

    #5 Smith 158gm 14.49 HSCA/60

    #6 Staios 340gm 14.75 HSCA/60

    #7 Souray 144gm 14.91 HSCA/60

    Of the 31D that have played the qualified minutes only 7 gave us above league average Box defence.

    #10 Nikitin 15.80 HSCA/60 the 3rd best 1st comp play in that 10 year period. he was the 3rd best HSCA 2nd comp d in the league for 3 years in columbus.

    #19 Smid 17.02 HSCA/60

    #20 Ference 17.14 HSCA/60

    #21 Fayne 17.16 He was the best in the game 10.05 last 4 years in NJ. It hints at needing coaching that emphasizes a system that protects the box and the slot. Mclelland is one of those coaches.

    #22 Petry 17.26

    #24 Klefbom 17.34

    #27 Schultz 17.96

    #30 Marincin 18.82

    The Eakins pinch/Swarm system provided the kind of odd man rushes that yielded higher than normal HSCA and High chance shots.

    We saw signs of the elite 1 to 3 HSCA/game (fane in NJ) from Klefbom, Nikitin, and Fayne at end of season.

    Peter Chiarelli brought in Sekera who was a sub a 13.40 1stcomp d and the 2nd best 2nd comp d (12.05) while in Buffalo. But spiked to 17.61 in a terrible coached box system in Carolina. Went to LA and reverted back to great HSCA defence having the the 2nd best 2nd comp or higher season 11.41 since the 04-05 lockout. Muzzins 12-13 1st comp season 10.18 was better.

    PC then acquired 2nd/3rd comp Gryba who was 13.99 HSCA/60 in OTT.

    I feel a lot better with the 3 top 30 D Fayne; Sekera; Nikitin; and Gryba; end of season games from Klefbom that say better than league average HSCA defence. Compared to the last 6 seasons were we had one of 41 qualified def seasons be better than league average at protecting the box.

    Were Petry (1); Schultz (2); Marincin (2); Aulie (1); Smid (2); whitney (2); Peckham (1); Smid (2); Strudwick (2); w; Chorney (1) were in the worst 15 seasons 18.5 to 21.00 HSCA/60.

    Could be worse. We could have Toronto’s d. The 340 qualified defence to play in last 6 seasosns: Phanuef is #339 19.94: Reilly #338 19.72; Marincin #328 18.82; Gardiner #312 17.80. They have 4 of the 40 worst d in last 5 seasons.

  • One of the most understated things about Klef was his ability to not take penalties. He is a very good skater and has a smart stick and when he was out of position he was able to get back into the play quickly. I think the sky is the limit for this young player I really respect his style of play and he is underrated in my mind. Klefbom and Nurse could anchor this blueline for years.

  • camdog

    He doesn’t whine and cry when things go bad, he plays equally as hard in both ends of the ice. Of the next generation he is most complete hockey player on this team.