Oscar Klefbom hasn’t been the same this season. Last season was a breakout for Klefbom. He appeared to be on his way into evolving into a top-pairing defenceman. This season, though, has been a step backwards.
It was expected that he was going to fill into Andrej Sekera’s role as the team’s top defender while the veteran defender missed the first chunk of the season, but Klefbom wasn’t able to carry the load. Instead, Darnell Nurse jumped over him and has been slotting in alongside Adam Larsson on the team’s top pair.
Last year, Klefbom logged 22:22 per night and put up 38 points in 82 games. I think most would agree he was Edmonton’s best all-around defender, producing on offence, breaking the puck out effectively, and playing solid defensively. This year, he’s played 22:46 minutes per game and has just 14 points in 51 games. His underlying numbers aren’t much worse in terms of shot differential, but Klefbom has been playing softer minutes than last season. In terms of on-ice goals, Klefbom has been much worse this season than last. In 2016-17, he was excellent, as the Oilers scored 52.85 per cent of the goals when he was on the ice. In 2017-18, though, they’re only scoring 43.24 per cent of goals.
In his 31 Thoughts column yesterday, Elliotte Friedman noted that Klefbom wasn’t right.
22. Don’t know if Oscar Klefbom needs some kind of surgery, but he hasn’t looked right all year. Wonder if we’re getting to the point he’s shut down to get ready for next season. Source
Back during last year’s playoffs, Klefbom missed game six against the Ducks with an undisclosed injury. He played game seven, which the team ultimately lost, and it kind of got swept under the rug with Andrej Sekera’s much more serious ACL injury. But like I said, as you’ve all probably noticed, Klefbom hasn’t looked the same this season. When Klefbom was placed on the IR back in December, Todd McLellan suggested he had been playing through an injury:
“He’s been playing sore and hurt for a while. With us getting Larsson back and [Andrej] Sekera getting close, now is the time to give him the time he needs to heal throughout the Christmas break. So he’s gone on IR. He’ll be out for a minimum of seven days, obviously.”
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Should the Oilers shut Klefbom down?
I mean, at this point, given how the team has essentially been eliminated from playoff contention, none of the games the rest of the way mean anything. If Klefbom is playing through an injury that can be fixed, the team would hopefully think of the bigger picture rather than the rest of this season, right?
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