Find Them, Keep Them

When news broke that the Oilers signed Oscar Klefbom to a seven year deal at $4.167 million per season I, along with many in Oilers Nation, was very pleased. However, to many outsiders who definitely don’t watch the team closely, the deal raised eyebrows. Let them raise their eyebrows. The Oilers need to find good players and keep good players. This deal ensures they get to keep one for the prime years of his career.

Oscar Klefbom began the 2014-2015 season on the top pair in the AHL and finished it on the top pair in the NHL. This year he should find himself in the top four but not necessarily the top pair thanks to the signing of Andrej Sekera. He is 22 years old with a July birthday and still has this season remaining on his current deal. That means his extension will keep him in Oiler silks from the age of 23 through 30.

THROWING SHADE

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We can find any number of detractors if we just look for them. However, the underlying reasoning most of them have isn’t that Klefbom only has 77 games and should prove that he can be an elite defender. No, the biggest mark against any individual Oiler’s contract is that the team as a whole has performed poorly.

It makes absolutely no sense, but the reality of being a bad team is that people will always assume the team is bad because the players are bad. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle in particular don’t have the reputations they deserve across the league because it’s only natural for people to transfer blame for the mountain of losses onto them.

Edmonton’s defense is terrible. Oscar Klefbom is an Edmonton defenseman. Therefore, Oscar Klefbom is terrible, or at least not nearly as good as player X from some winning club. Subconsciously this is what is going on for a lot of people who just haven’t seen the kid play a lot.

SHAKE IT OFF

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Of course, that’s just not how things actually work. Bad teams like the Oilers are bad because they can’t find enough good players or if they do then they can’t keep them. We’ll take Edmonton’s defense as a prime example of that. The franchise has been terrible at drafting and developing their own defenders. When they finally did with Jeff Petry they opted to challenge him on short term deals right up to the time he was able to walk away as a free agent. They finally found one good player but opted not to keep him.

The Klefbom deal takes the gamble that the player is indeed a good player but Edmonton is making damn sure that this time they’re keeping him. It’s a good gamble.

Klefbom has the pedigree, the size, the skating, and the results to suggest that he is going to stay in the team’s top four for the duration of this extension that doesn’t even kick in until next season. He’s going to be making less money on average than Nikita Nikitin and he’s already good. If he never gets better than what he was at the end of last year he’s still going to deliver value on the contract.

I’ve written about Klefbom here, here, and here (for just a few examples). My eyes tell me the Oilers found a very good player. A good number of stats seem to support that belief. Instead of waiting around for Klefbom to price himself up the Oilers made sure that they are going to keep him around for the prime years of his career at what should be a bargain price for a quality top four defender.

Bad teams only get better by finding good people and keeping good people. Edmonton has struggled greatly doing that with its blueline in particular. Yes, there’s a certain amount of risk signing Klefbom to this deal, but I like the club’s chances.

  • hagar

    I will be even harder on PC if this team doesn’t turn things around post haste. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to rip on Mact after all that was given to him in player potential and value, and the simple fact the team got worse as he got more.

    • hagar

      Or positioning for the most epic amount of trade value in sports history?

      It isn’t cap hell unless he tries to sign everyone at the same time. Nothing wrong with having a few player you can’t afford in the future… they are worth a lot when you move them.

      • hagar

        Big roll of the dice on this one, the sample size is 77 games played 3 goals and 20 assists for 23 points and a -27…not worth 7 years, even for a team like Edmonton that has to over-pay to get anyone to sign there.

        There was no urgency to give this kid this kind of dough at this point in time.

        • hagar

          Small roll of the dice. It’s not a 50/50 chance he will not be worth 4 mill. 4 mill is not a lot of money in the hockey world, especially when looking 4 to 7 years down the road.

          Of course 7 years can also leave you in a spot like we are with Ference now…

          Risk and reward I guess.

    • hagar

      Of course it is a concern , but let us look at what Chia brings to our team from Boston that will probably help us immensely . Then perhaps you’ll see this signing in a more positive light .

      Chia brings a record of spotting necessary talent to build the Bruins into a strong contender . We have not had that for quite awhile . Chia also builds a management and coaching staff around him to further enhance his team (s) . Once again it looks like he has that in place , where before we questionably were lax .

      If Chia is right on his assessment of Klefbom , then this is very valued contract he has done . I happen to think he is right on with his assessment and worth of Klefbom moving forward with our club at a value that Klefbom may exceed very early into his contract . Being early it may have saved club lots of cap space into the future by not waiting . Medium to low risk ,with good chance at high reward .

      Let us not judge Chia as same as old group just yet .

    • Anton CP

      Yeah sure, consider Flames commited 70% of payroll on blueliners for the next couple of years…and almost 22m on your so called top 2 pairings…it would be a total waste if they are not better than Klefbom right? I mean, all 4 of them are getting paid more than Klefbom will be for the next 7 years. Great cap management.

      Of course, one of the best deal that MacT has done is by dumping Smid to Calgary with his 3.5m cap hit for Brossoit. Fans were hating it at the time but it looks like a genius move couple years later.

      Who knows, Flames will have likely 28m cap room (if cap goes up by 3m) to work with, like, signing Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler, Granlund, Russell, Hiller, and Ramo. I’m pretty sure that they will all settle for only 4m per each. They LOVE Calgary that much to willing to re-sign with a discount, right?

    • Train#97

      Don’t worry about Klefbomb.Worry about how screwed your team is capsize at the end of this season.!!! Already against the cap and 3guys to sign that are gonna cost 18 ml. And a whole boatload of others. Everyone go take a look at NHL numbers salary cap and see how f$&ked the Flames are at seasons end.!

      • paul wodehouse

        Remember this post when Treliving makes it fit. The guy is a mad genius. Don’t worry about our cap situation, worry about a .500 record against the west for the first time in a decade, k?

    • Joy S. Lee

      You Calgary folk are confident in your team, and you should be; but allow me to educate you: Oscar Klefbom will probably be better than every defenseman you have in a year or two.

      IMO, he’s already better than: Brodie (decent… but overrated), Engelland, Smid (overrated), and Wideman. He’s on par with Russell and brings more size to the table. That leaves Giordano and Hamilton. At the moment, there are few better D-men than Gio, but remember that he turns 32 in a couple of weeks. That’s a 10-year difference. As for Hamilton, I know people love his unique style, and I question if he’s as good as people seem to think, but I’m tempted to say Klefbom is pretty close to even with him right now (by eye), and brings much more defense to the table. I think Klefbom will be the better player over the next 10 years, possibly than any of your beloved Flames D-men. So laugh and make stupid jokes if you want, but I don’t think you’ll be laughing last.

      Anyway, you’re just saying it because you want to be ridiculous. No wonder there’s a branch of Oilers fans trolling the Flames sites these days; it’s in response to the garbage this dolt and a few others spew on ON.

      • foureyedmike

        Ummm… if Klefbom were a Flame, I’d put him as #4 in Calgary right now – behind Gio, Brodie and Hamilton. Russell and Wideman played out of their minds last year, and form a good pairing. Brodie played 25+ minutes a night last year, and can move the puck really well (and scored 40 pts.)

        Which is to say, Klefbom is pretty good – especially for a guy who’s played a complete season.

        I hope it works out, and it ought to, but there’s no sure things. Ask the GM’s who signed Eminger, Brewer, Woywitka…

      • 719

        This…right here.

        Sums up in one post how delusional Oilers fans are…Klefbom has proven absolutely nothing, yet you spout off that he is somehow better than Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Wideman and Russell?

        I’m not even a Flames fan but this is just pure comedy to me and exactly why the Oilers (and their fans) are the laughing stock of the league.

        Enjoy September and October as by Nov 1st you’ll already be eliminated from the playoffs like every other year…perhaps you’ll be a little more humble at that point.

        • That post sums up how delusional ONE Oilers fan is.

          Don’t lump all the educated fans who give informed opinions on the Oilers in the same boat as the dummies who post ridiculous crap.

  • hagar

    The oilers have enough number one picks on staff on the cheap, they could probably trade for the number one pick every year, and forever have a star or two on entry level contracts. Lol

  • Derzie

    You’ve got 7 years to prove the detractors right or wrong. Regardless of how good Klefbaum is, 7 years is same old same old, whether he lives up to it or not. Reinforces the ongoing slogan, always given, never earned. Opposite of Calgary.

    • bazmagoo

      Thanks for reminding that it’s the opposite of Calgary. That slogan came right out of the Dallas Eakins book of dispensable wisdoms so if that’s the crap Hartley’s going to use to motivate Hamilton with I am on board 100%.

  • hagar

    Kleff is at least a 70 percent lock to be worth 4 mill.

    I would rather take those odds with his perceived potential, than risk letting him get better and more proven, then require 5.5 or 6 a year on long term.

    You can write him off down to 2 million a year if his wheels fall off, but the potential positive worth has no such action beyond having to take the original risk.

  • hagar

    Signing Klef for 7 years at ~4M per year after 77 NHL games is certainly less risky than when the Oil signrf RNH for 6M per year after a similar sample size.

  • paul wodehouse

    You can dress it up any way you like, but signing Klef to a seven-year deal after 77 games in the NHL is a huge mistake. I don’t even understand what the upside is. The only justification for this deal is saving money. Yet with the Canadian dollar continuing to get the crap kicked out of it, the salary cap could possibly continue to stagnate. We’ve seen what happened with contracts this summer. If the cap rises only marginally again next year it will put downward pressure on salaries. Maybe next year, if Klef has another good season, you could sign him for less than $4 million per season.

    • Anton CP

      77 games is not the issue here, almost everyone came out of same age groups has all linked with similar money and terms. It maybe a gamble but the other side will also be a gamble. Remember this, if Klefbom actually has a good season then it will not just be 4m per year. Go check out all the other D-men with similar to Klefbom and their contracts. You will find the average top 2 pairing d-men are all around the same amount of money if not more. As matter of fact that his 77 games was more of Eakins and MacT;s fault to keep him in minors for that long.

  • foureyedmike

    Seems like a good all-around defenceman, and one who will get better. The term is a risk, but if he pans out as a #2-3 defenceman, it’s a good deal. Like Subban, or TJ Brodie, doing the bridge deal can cost more long-term. You’ve got to take some risks.

    The trick will be to let him ease into the role and develop right. Having a competent coach can’t hurt.
    I was always impressed watching the Sharks under MacLellan – they always seemed to have young guys I never heard of playing well in the 2nd or 3rd pairings. The Sharks always struck me as a forward heavy team, like the Oilers, but they were always in it and never seemed terrible defensively.

    Petry seems like a shame – the Oilers needed defence, Montreal was happy to have him, and he got a massive contract.

    Gotta confess I’m a Flames fan (I like the Oilers – hate the ‘nucks), but I’m looking forward to watching the Oilers this year. I don’t think they’re a playoff team yet, but they’ll be better. I’m curious about who will thrive, and who will stick around, as the team improves.

    The talk of engineering career development is fun too (as a P. Eng.). If you hire a young guy, expect to have to develop them and allow them to make mistakes. Even if the young guy is really smart, veteran help is necessary to show the ropes and help with hard decisions. I think hockey’s quite similar – the coach and the older players are really crucial on a team.

  • paul wodehouse

    Can someone pass me the kool-aid please. I’m an Oiler fan, but at least I’m not delusional. This is a horrible signing. The guy has played 77 frickin games and everyone here is annoiting him a stud. And even if he does pan out, the weak Canadian dollar is putting downward pressure on salaries. There’s a good possibility that he could be signed for less than $4 million in a year from now, even if he does pan out. Mind boggling.

  • foureyedmike

    Name the last Edmonton Oilers D man that was drafted developed, and retained, becoming a big part of the Oiler’s team.

    And no, Petry doesn’t count because he was never considered a part of the solution by management when he was here. Unless it was to justify sending Tom Gilbert out of town.

  • Spiel

    Laughable how the management team cites performance at the world championships as a deciding factor.

    International ice surface, lesser competition for the most part, and he was paired with a Norris candidate in OEL. Pretty hard to translate that to the NHL.