GDB 76.0: PP woes and trading Klefbom?


After the trade deadline, Todd McLellan challenged his team to have a solid final 18 games. He wanted them to be competitive, consistent and show a winning effort every game. The Oilers are 6-5 since the deadline, a significant improvement over their first 64 games (23-24-7), but McLellan was not happy with his skilled players after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Colorado.

McLellan refuses to sit back and let this team be comfortable. He is not afraid to voice his displeasure, but he doesn’t embarrass individuals, he simply speaks honestly about when he sees them not playing up to their potential.

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McLellan was very disappointed with his powerplay, specifically his forwards.

“Our powerplay turned it over, went to break out it again, then turned it over. Then guess what? We turned it over and went to break out again. There is a lot of talk about needing a quarterback, but that had nothing to do with having a quarterback on the powerplay. It had to do with the forwards. Really high-end, talented, skilled forwards that you put out there, that can win you a game in that situation, but turnover after turnover after turnover. It’s disappointing,” said McLellan.

The Oilers have scored a PP goal in only two of their last 17 games. The frustrating aspect for Mclellan, and most fans I’m sure, is this group proved versus St. Louis (four PP goals on six chances) they can produce when they outwork the penalty killers, and focus on making crisp, accurate passes. However, too often their execution and attention to detail has been lacking.

Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl have enough combined skill to be better than 5 for 44 (11.3%) in their previous 17 games. This group still struggles with consistency. Take away the Blues game and they are 1 for 38 in 16 games. That is gross for a group with this much offensive skill.

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Instead of resting on the excuse of lacking a bonafide powerplay quarterback, McLellan challenged his players to be better. He pointed out their inability to simply bring the puck up ice. He didn’t name individual names, instead he confronted them as a group.

Both units were equally pathetic versus Colorado and they have been during this lengthy power outage. All of those players, specially the four who have played all 17 games (RNH has only dressed for the last five), need to be more focused on the man advantage. They can’t just rely on their skill, they need to include a work ethic to match the penalty killers.

To win consistently in the NHL your best players need to be your on-ice leaders. The Oilers haven’t been bad at EV recently — they actually have 20GF and 20GA at EV in the month of March — but if their PP had a pulse they likely would have at least one more victory. One more victory in a eleven-game span makes a huge difference over a course of a season.

The Oilers are 6-5, which prorates to 89 points in a full season. If they were 6-4-1 they’d be on pace for 97 points, if they were 7-4 they’d be a 104 point team.

One or two more PP goals could have earned them one or two more points, which can turn into a lot over the course of a season.

Winning teams find ways to be consistent, and despite having a winning record since challenging his team, McLellan is far from satisfied. He’s coached winning teams. He knows what it takes to make the playoffs and finish with 100 points. You can never be satisfied, and in the past every time this group tasted a bit of success, they would rest on their laurels and slide back down the standings.

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That cycle needs to stop. It is obvious McLellan sees the issues, and is doing is best to address it, but the ultimate decision makers will be the players. McLellan was working on the PP yesterday in Leduc before the team flew to Phoenix, and tonight is another opportunity for them to show they coach they understand, but it also another chance for them to show the GM they haven’t.


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Patrick Maroon won’t dress tonight, but McLellan expects him to be ready for San Jose. The Oilers didn’t skate this morning, so we don’t know if Anton Lander draws in or possibly Adam Cracknell. As for the lines, they will start the game like this, but based on what we’ve seen the previous games it is safe to say McLellan will experiment with a few combinations up front.

Oilers lineup courtesy of

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Coyotes lineup courtesy of


  • Yesterday Ryan Rishaug had Oilers fans fired up when he suggested the Oilers should strongly consider moving Oscar Klefbom for Travis Hamonic. His reasoning is Klefbom is injury-prone, and while the Staph infection was a freak thing, he has been injured every season dating back to his time in the Swedish Elite League. Some players are injured more than others, while others have a few tough seasons filled with injuries, but then find ways to stay healthy. Which category does Klefbom fall under?

    Let’s look at Klefbom’s career. His first season in the SEL, his draft year, he played 23 of 55 games. He was a healthy scratch for a few, but he missed many games with an injury.

    In his second season, 2011/2012 he played 33 of 55 games. The next year he only dressed in 11 of 55 games. Over three seasons he dressed in 66 of 115 games.

    His first season in the AHL (13/14) he played 50 games (48 regular, 2 playoff) in the AHL and 17 with the Oilers. He missed 11 games (10 reg, 1 playoff) due to injury in the AHL, but played every game he was available with the Oilers.

    Last year he played 60 NHL games, and while in the NHL he missed two due to injury.  He played nine in the AHL and missed none.

    This year he has played 30 games and missed 45 due to injury.

    So in his SEL career he played in 57.3% of his team’s games (66 of 115). In the AHL and NHL he has dressed for 74% of the games (166 of 224).

    The staph infection, which in my books isn’t an injury, has cost him 25 games. He broke his finger on December 11th and the Oilers hit all-star break on January 23rd. He was looking to return on February 2nd, but hasn’t due to the infection. For argument sake let’s say no staph infection then he’d have played in 85% of his pro games (191 of 224).

    Being available for 74% of a team’s games compared to 85% is a big difference. You can argue the staph infection is a freak thing, or you can say injury, infection, cold are all the same. You are either available or you aren’t. To date Klefbom has dressed in 74% of his pro games in North America.

    Travis Hamonic had played in 390 of 427 NHL games (91.3%). The fewest games he played was 69 of 82 in 2013/2014.

    I would be leery of dealing Klefbom for Hamonic, because when healthy I believe Klefbom has more upside. Also I’m not sure a broken finger and staph infection equate to injury-prone. Guys with chronic groin and hip issues concern me more.

    Rishaug’s argument of being unavailable does have some merit when you look Klefbom’s career since 2010/2011, and if Klefbom is better, but not available to dress as often does that lower his value? Which side are you on?


From Five for Howling

Edmonton is struggling to keep their team on the up and up. They have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the tenth straight year. (Sorry Oilers fans.)

They are starting to look up in the hope department with more points than they had last season and actual goaltending. It’s just that pesky defense they are having problems with. Hopefully they will solve this at the draft (and not win the lottery again) with a good defensive pick, or some trades to bolster their D corps.



GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won only two of their previous 14 meetings versus the Coyotes. A few of the skilled forwards respond to McLellan’s challenge and the Oilers win 3-2.

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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Coyotes score a goal. They’ve been shutout in two straight, but the score late midway through the first frame.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Matt Hendricks picks up an assist and sets a career-high with points in four consecutive games. His first three-game point streak was in December of 2009, and he never had another until these past three games.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • Captain McTowel

    Why do so many people think drafting a D man at the draft will fix our defensive issues? We have plenty of young future studs already. You draft the best available always…. To fix the back end will have to be done through free agency, trades, and patience. Nurse, Klefbom, Davidson, Osterle, Reinhart, Musil will all develop. I know it’s been 10 long,… long years, but this is still year one of the PC/TM era, and we have to wait a little bit longer. I would never give up the chance to pick Matthews if available, or Laine, or Puljujarvi. Chychrun will not make us better next year. Players like Aaron Ekblad are not common…

  • Spoils

    one reason I don’t want to move Nuge is I believe he will be a late bloomer. I believe as he gets older & wiser, he will get disproportionately better…

    Hall on the other hand, I worry won’t age as well…

    I am not saying trade Hall now, I’m just saying that you can leverage the information asymmetry associated with inside knowledge of the player.

    here’s hoping we transition away from Petry/Cogliano/Jultz arcs and capture maximum value both from time on team and from the deal.


  • OldOilerFan

    I agree with everyone, why trade Klefbom for Hamonic, we’d STILL be looking for a defenseman to add. He’s got a tremendous upside, let’s not give up yet. Find another way to get Hamonic. Package a few, I don’t know. I won’t speculate on who, I’m not a GM (and neither is Ryan Rishaug).

    And as for the other part of this article, I think this team needs new leadership. I think Mclellan needs to re-evaluate who are wearing the C’s and the A’s.

    My two cents…

  • RJ

    Klefbom – in his third season as an Oiler – 107 career games.

    Nurse – in his rookie season as an Oiler – 64 career games. He’ll be around 70 career games after one season.

    Does anyone seriously expect Klefbom will play 80 games next year?

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Klefbom is a #2 defencemen some games and a #6 others. Hamonic is a #4 defencemen all the time.

    Also we’re in the heart of Hall’s prime already and we’re not even close to making the playoffs.
    It might be smart to trade him and keep the 1st rounder we’re going to be drafting.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Have felt a Hamonic for Klefbom deal made sense since before he was injured. All forecasts of where Klefboms ceiling is, remains simply a hopeful/ projection, not a gauranteed finished end product. This wouldn’t be the first time the prior management types over valued an asset. They still very much influence the day to day decisions on how this team is being run. The sooner MacT, Lowe and Howson are gone the better.

    4 of the current starting D’men will be gone inside of the next 16 months. When Peter moves heaven and earth this summer and finally brings in a couple legitimate top pairing blueliners, he’ll easily be able to unload that albatross in waiting/Sekera in the coming expansion draft.

    • RJ

      I thought the comment re: Klefbom’s upside is a good one. He should be at 200+ games by now, but he’s stuck at 107.

      If he keeps missing long stretches of play, I don’t see how he can prevent regression, never mind think about improving.

  • I agree in a one for one exchange, Klefbom looks to have more upside. However, given that the Oilers have a position of strength on the Left side D: Sekera, Klefbom, Nurse, Davidson, Reinheart, Laleggia, Legasson.

    And have a position of weakness on the right side:
    Fayne, Gryba, Clendening.

    Trading Klefbom for Hamonic might be a trade the team loses on an individual player base, but wins by making the team stronger and giving guys like Nurse or Davidson a vet right side guy to pair with.

    Not to mention, the top guy int he draft this year is another left side D. I think moving out one left side guy for a huge upgrade on the right side is the right call for the team. If they can add another right side guy via free agency, music.

    • S cottV

      I would agree – Klefbom for Harmonic makes some sense and maybe there is a sweetener in their somewhere, to offset any imbalance – if any.

      I go back to a prior point though –

      All those left handers you mention and nobody is capable of being a high end QB on the pp.

      Do you guys really think Sekera is that guy?

      Good guy – for the 2nd unit but no, not good enough on the first unit.

      Am I missing something?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The glass half full/koolaid drinking side of me can see Chiarelli turning this thing around in one off season. Austin Mathews and Steven Stamkos as outside possibilities. Adding a Hamonic as well as a Shattenkirk are also both real possibilities. Not sure who Peter is going to target for that #1 blueliner role but if you add a Subban/Burns/Karlsson to those changes already, one can’t help but feel optimistic about the start of next season.

    Unfortunately the best part of the Oiler season is restricted to imagination based scenarios only, and not reality based these last 10 yrs.

  • OilBlood

    Gregor – why no mention of Hall replying to a question about McLellan being upset with the power play and how he challenged his high end players. Hall responded by saying that the power play was no big deal and not that much of a concern.

    Completely undermined his coach and making it seem like he was over reacting.

  • Steel Panther

    How, in any way, does trading Klefbom for Hamonic make any sense? That is a lateral move and we are doing the Islanders a favor. Unfortunately we need Klefbom AND Hamonic.

    • hockey1099

      We have 5 Left sided dmen that we could use next season. On the right side we have fayne. By trading klef for hamonic we get better as a team as we start to balance out our d. Klef may have a slightly higher ceiling but hamonic being right handed is harder to find.

      We are too worried about losing a trade and having the guy we move turn into a super star. You know what wil make that easier if it happens? Actually winning hockey games. We can keep waiting for every gm to lose their minds and trade us their best players for yak and draft picks or we can start actually trying to make this team better.

      In an ideal world we don’t move klef and snow gives hamonic for yak osterle and a 2nd rounder. But in the real world we may have to make lateral moves and actually trade something of quality to get something of quality we need. Baby steps are better than no steps. We all want to jump for the moon but let’s be realistic, doughty, Weber, burns, suter, buff, oel, subban, pietranglo probably aren’t getting traded to us or anyone.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Isn’t there a game tonight?

    Oilers crawl closer to a 30th place finish with a 3-1 loss. Regarding Hamonic, he’s a second pair guy. Is he really the guy to lead us out of the cellar? Is he any better than what we already have? The time is nigh to target actual top pairing defenders and we need 2, regardless of price.

    So, the Senators play better than .500 hockey with a budget payroll and Melnyk melts down? NOW THAT’S AN OWNER. Probably helps that he lives in the same province as his team.

  • Zarny

    Uncomfortable is the only leverage McLellan and Chiarelli really have at this point. Do you want to play with McDavid next year?

    Theoretically, I think the Oilers should explore all options and that could include trading Klefbom. The only trade that would make sense would be a 1-2 D with a more experience. But to make the call you need to know all the options. Who can they get for Nuge? Eberle? Yakupov? Hall? The 1st round pick? Various packages?

  • I say trade Eberle for Hamonic. I don’t get this “it’ll create a hole in the lineup” talk. We have a way bigger hole on the right side of the defense!!! Losing Eberle shouldn’t be a problem when you have 4 1st overall picks!!!

  • Word to the Bird

    The Islanders have zero leverage for Hamonic. Thats a big factor in play.

    Chiarelli will probably offer some lesser package for Hamonic. If they don’t take that he will offer Eberle. Thats as high as he will go IMO. If the Oilers trade Klefbom for Hamonic, they’re doing Snow a favour. Considering how weak the Oilers’ D-core is, I highly doubt Chia is looking to trade any defensemen.

    • Time Travelling Sean

      Well they have some leverage in that more than one team wants that same player.

      Also Hamonic’s move isn’t urgent for NYI because Hamonic himself has no leverage either.

      • Word to the Bird

        The fact that other teams are interested doesn’t really give them any added leverage; generally speaking any team trading a player has that “leverage”.
        You think the Islanders are gonna keep a distraction like that looming over their heads? Snow isn’t dumb, he knows its gonna get ugly if a deal isn’t made by the trade deadline next season.

        At the end of the day, The Islanders know they need to move him at some point whether they want to or not, or else he’s gonna stop showing up to practices and games, not to mention it would be a bad PR move on their part.

          • Word to the Bird

            I doubt he’d offer something like that, maybe he’ll offer something like Pouliot, Yakupov and a 2016 3rd round pick. If they didn’t take that then he’d offer Eberle I think. If he doesn’t take that then I think maybe, MAYBE he should throw in a sweetener like a 4th or something. Anything more than that he should tell Snow to get bent.

            Of course this is all my opinion.

  • toprightcorner

    I beleive one of Klefboms longer injuries in the SEL was when he got hit from behind and broke his leg or something. I don’t recal the specific injury but only it was a dirty hit. To me that is a fluke incident and not injury prone. I think that was the time when he missed the 44 games, basically the entire season.

    Would I trade Klefbom straight across for Hamonic? With the depth on the left side and lack of anything on the right side I think Hamonic outweighs the costs of not having Klefbom on the left side. With Sekera and Davidson capable of top 4 right side and Nurse challenging that in a couple years, ther is some definite depth there so the loss is minimal. Signing Pardy at $1 mill can still allow Nurse to play a majority of next season in the AHL that he desperately needs for his development.

    That move along with the Demers everyone talks about gives you

    Sekera – Hamonic
    Davidson – Demers
    Nurse/Pardy – Gryba

    That is a good start to fill the hole and still have that forward that would have otherwise been used to trade to add more RD depth or something else.

    Klefbom would be a loss but the benefit for the team balance is worth that trade.

    • Intermission

      The teams leading McDavid finisher. Who is terrible defensively, and plays a super soft game on DOUBLE the contract that Hamonic is on? Yes, I would.

      • .

        He’s a finisher. Period.

        Right now he’s on track for 30 goals over 82 games, putting him in the company of the top 15 goal scorers in the league, which as a group averages well over $6M a year.

        Of course, with the rate that Hall’s been scoring lately both with McDavid and on his own, Ebs is the one we should trade. Because who needs a player who’s got chemistry with McDavid, right?

        Amazingly, everybody says that McDavid is the one player who’s untouchable but in the next breath they say the first guy we should trade is the only forward who we know can play with McDavid. Wow.

        • 3 Little Birds

          You make very good points, brother.

          I have been of the belief that we keep center strength and depth, and trade a winger to acquire defensive assistance. Hall has more value, in my opinion, and Ebs is close behind.

          I’d be curious to see what Ebs would garner vs Hall.

          Do you think Hall for Hamonic is a fair win/win deal?

          • Intermission

            Hall for Hamonic would be the single worst trade in Oilers history and I would never watch a game again.

            And I’ve endured these last 10 years, so that says a lot.

            EDIT: LOL at the people trashing this. You want to trade our best winger for a guy demanding a trade… hahaha

  • shaner

    big surprise………lil Nuge’y is hurt again

    jeeze!!! I want to say bad luck but maybe he is made of porcelein?

    hopefully its just a stinger or concussion protocol….hope he is alright!

  • Reg Dunlop

    Hallsey is really giving the tender’s crest a workout. Every time he hits it square, at least those times he doesn’t turn the puck over. ‘Best left winger in northern Alberta’.

  • BlueHairedApe

    All this supposed high end talent yet they sure have a hard time scoring when it counts. They can sure dipsy doodle though and look real fancy. Right up to the point they get close to the net and then let one rip right into the goalies crest. Frustrating as hell these guys.

  • Mr.Snrub

    29th place. The Laffs are 2 points back with a whopping 4 games in hand.

    I’m a pretty pessimistic guy when it comes to this modern day Oilers team and even i wouldn’t have thought this was possible again this year. 75-80 points and miss the playoffs? Sure that was possible, even probable. But this? Again? Wake me up when the nightmare ends.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Hamonic is exactly the d-man the Oilers need and if we had to trade Klefbom to get him so be it ! i’d hate like hell to see him end up in Calgary like Hamilton did or waste his time on a downsliding Canuck team.