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Photo Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Klefbom v. Barrie

The most common questions surrounding the Oilers offseason is: have they improved their defence? How much will the potential loss of Oscar Klefbom impact the blue line?

Both are valid questions. In August I wrote why the Oilers needed to change the personnel on their blueline. Losing Klefbom for the full season due to arthritis in his shoulder, was not the catalyst to change I was thinking, however, today that is how it looks for the Oilers.

Earlier this week we looked at the Oilers forward group, and how they will have five new faces on opening night, compared to last season. The Oilers defence will also look quite different this season. Klefbom is injured, Matt Benning signed in Nashville and Joel Persson and Brandon Manning weren’t re-signed.

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Adam Larsson was injured on opening night last season, and then missed the next 22 games.

In those first 23 games the Oilers dressed the following defenders:

Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Kris Russell, Klefbom and Benning played all 23 games.
Persson played 10, Manning skated in nine, Caleb Jones in three and Larsson in one.

With Klefbom, Benning and Persson/Manning all gone, and we assume the Oilers start the season healthy, then they will have three new faces for those games with Larsson, Jones and Tyson Barrie.

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Pretty significant change on the blue line as well.

To be fair, in the final 48 games of last season, here is how the blue line was deployed.

Bear, Nurse and Larsson played all 48 games. Jones dressed in 40, Klefbom (39), Russell (32), Benning (20), William Lagesson (8), Persson (3) and Mike Green (2). So we can argue that Klefbom out and Barrie in is the significant change.

Here is a quick look at the Oilers blueline at 5×5 in those 48 games via Naturalstattrick

Point totals at 5×5 in those games were Nurse (2-15-17), Bear (2-11-13), Jones (4-4-8), Klefbom (2-6-8), Larsson (1-5-6), Russell (0-4-4) and Benning (1-2-3).

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So how much will the Oilers miss Klefbom?

Barrie v. Klefbom

Barrie is 29, shoots right and plays RD while Klefbom is 27, shoots left and plays LD.

Their career totals thus far:
Barrie has played 554 games and produced 80-266-346.
Klefbom has played 378 games and produced 34-122-156.

Barrie is better offensively and is in the lineup more often. Here are their totals at 5×5 over the past six seasons when both were established NHL players.

Barrie GP TOI Goals Total Assists First Assists Second Assists  Points Shots S% Rebounds Created PIM Total Penalties Minor Penalties Drawn Giveaways Takeaways Hits Hits Taken Shots Blocked
20142015 COL 80 1349:49:00 8 24 11 13 32 87 9.2 6 20 10 10 5 38 31 73 127 83
20152016 COL 78 1434:57:00 9 12 7 5 21 105 8.57 13 16 8 8 15 46 26 33 106 73
20162017 COL 74 1385:43:00 6 19 15 4 25 125 4.8 16 14 7 7 6 41 15 30 85 67
20172018 COL 68 1211:30:00 5 18 12 6 23 118 4.24 16 18 8 8 8 30 16 36 68 72
20182019 COL 78 1314:31:00 11 19 11 8 30 167 6.59 25 32 15 15 7 36 26 44 79 87
20192020 TOR 70 1269:07:00 4 21 11 10 25 141 2.84 12 14 7 7 4 58 15 44 112 70
Total 448 7965:37:00 43 113 67 46 156 743 36.24 88 114 55 55 45 249 129 260 577 452

Barrie missed a total of 32 games.

Klefbom GP TOI Goals Total Assists First Assists Second Assists Total Points Shots S% Rebounds Created PIM Total Penalties Minor Penalties Drawn Giveaways Takeaways Hits Hits Taken Shots Blocked
20142015 EDM 60 1128:28:00 2 14 4 10 16 85 2.35 8 4 2 2 2 45 40 42 110 83
20152016 EDM 30 493:43:00 4 5 4 1 9 35 11.4 5 4 2 2 23 7 20 45 38
20162017 EDM 82 1411:31:00 9 11 9 2 20 162 5.56 17 6 3 3 4 55 24 37 140 110
20172018 EDM 66 1118:52:00 2 9 6 3 11 137 1.46 14 14 7 7 4 32 19 42 103 113
20182019 EDM 61 1132:01:00 1 11 3 8 12 133 0.75 9 12 6 6 2 37 20 35 108 77
20192020 EDM 62 1110:16:00 3 12 3 9 15 117 2.56 10 16 7 7 4 47 25 37 121 136
361 6394:51:00 21 62 29 33 83 669 24.1 63 56 27 27 16 239 135 213 627 557

Klefbom started the 2014/2015 season in the AHL, and didn’t miss any NHL games due to injury. So in the past five seasons he has missed a total of 98 games.

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Barrie’s first assist total illustrates he is more involved offensively, mainly because of his ability to join the rush and activate inside the offensive zone.

But what about their overall game?

Barrie GP TOI CF CA FF FA SF SA GF GA xG% SCF SCA HDGF HDGA PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu Zone Faceoffs Def Zone Faceoffs
20142015 COL 80 1349:49:00 1115 1358 830 972 630 679 71 57 46.4 527 604 41 32 1.029 194 249 201 1007 49.11 390 409 406
20152016 COL 78 1434:57:00 1209 1505 895 1135 653 812 57 57 44.4 521 669 34 28 1.017 175 317 194 1089 47.43 381 478 427
20162017 COL 74 1385:43:00 1216 1264 911 1001 653 761 44 72 46.3 513 550 24 40 0.973 220 308 178 959 55.28 518 498 395
20172018 COL 68 1211:30:00 1153 1250 825 942 585 677 54 50 42.9 509 586 24 30 1.018 241 213 123 885 66.21 478 387 300
20182019 COL 78 1314:31:00 1386 1251 1041 908 776 667 60 53 52.4 636 588 26 29 0.998 283 243 157 893 64.32 599 399 350
20192020 TOR 70 1269:07:00 1360 1193 1004 936 710 681 59 61 50.9 644 586 28 35 0.994 223 289 142 872 61.1 452 391 332
Total 448 7965:37:00 7439 7821 5506 5894 4007 4277 345 350 47.5 3350 3583 177 194 1.002 1336 1619 995 5705 55.2 2818 2562 2210
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Barrie was -5 in GF-GA over these six seasons, but was outshot by 270 shots, and had 233 more scoring chances against. Barrie is more offensive and, not surprisingly, he had more offensive zone starts.

Klefbom GP TOI CF CA FF FA SF SA GF GA xG% SCF SCA HDGF HDGA PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu Zone Starts Def Zone Starts On The Fly Starts OZone Start% Off Zone Faceoffs Neu Zone Faceoffs Def Zone Faceoffs
20142015 EDM 60 1128:28:00 1011 1019 758 748 543 509 40 60 47.55 461 531 26 30 0.956 145 250 127 822 53.31 381 406 274
20152016 EDM 30 493:43:00 443 429 331 309 237 230 18 21 51.47 190 188 10 13 0.985 52 121 81 366 39.1 146 191 167
20162017 EDM 82 1411:31:00 1318 1295 1015 943 738 681 65 58 50.42 646 643 37 36 1.003 170 288 209 996 44.85 438 493 431
20172018 EDM 66 1118:52:00 1174 1105 880 802 625 579 44 57 52.83 546 549 24 29 0.972 193 272 183 752 51.33 410 400 371
20182019 EDM 61 1132:01:00 1067 1052 815 790 590 588 30 45 49.94 486 498 20 24 0.974 145 297 194 740 42.77 356 432 378
20192020 EDM 62 1110:16:00 976 1113 740 799 523 590 44 54 47.72 462 542 32 33 0.993 160 216 144 737 52.63 335 335 319
Total 361 6394:51:00 5989 6013 4539 4391 3256 3177 241 295 49.9 2791 2951 149 165 0.984 865 1444 938 4413 47.33 2066 2257 1940

It is interesting to note Klefbom was -54 in GF-GA, but outshot the opposition by 79, yet when on the ice the Oilers allowed 160 more scoring chances against.

Quality of Competition

Thanks to PuckIQ.com we can look at which players they played against. At PuckIQ they break down the forwards by elite, middle and gritensity. Defending against Connor McDavid is different than defending Jujhar Khaira. It isn’t an exact science, but it does give us a look at how often they play against those players. I like it because it also illustrates the fact there are more middle tier players than the other two.

*DFF stands for dangerous Fenwick For and DFA is Dangerous Fenwick Against.**
** FO/60 is Faceoff per 60 minutes of TOI. Puck IQ’s theory is that the more FO/60 a player sees the more the coach is specifically deploying them in that situation.**

Klefbom
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ON SH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 EDM 62 Elite 367.8 33.3 305 410 42.7 229 290 44.1 16 14 53.3 10 93.2 1032 43.87 61.82
2019 EDM 61 Elite 398.2 35.1 332 392 45.9 232 319 42.1 10 14 41.7 5.3 93.7 990 44.67 69.16
2018 EDM 66 Elite 361.1 32.3 389 411 48.6 306 280 52.2 17 17 50 7.8 92.1 999 45.24 67.3
2017 EDM 82 Elite 490.7 34.8 448 482 48.2 365 376 49.2 25 16 61 10.2 94 1043 43.03 64.56
2016 EDM 30 Elite 226.3 45.9 201 217 48.1 153 153 50.1 9 12 42.9 9.1 89.7 988 45.45 68.41
2015 EDM 60 Elite 387.6 34.4 342 365 48.4 222 282 44 10 17 37 5.2 90.3 955 56.64 59.14
361 2232 34.3 2017 2277 47 1506 1700 46.9 87 90 49.1 8.2 92.1 1001 46.7 65.05
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ON SH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 EDM 62 Middle 398.1 36 347 382 47.6 271 288 48.5 17 19 47.2 9.3 91 1003 52.22 47.17
2019 EDM 61 Middle 414.9 36.6 404 410 49.6 308 265 53.8 9 17 34.6 4 92.5 966 49.08 62.47
2018 EDM 66 Middle 438.6 39.3 462 400 53.6 338 289 53.9 16 19 45.7 6.8 91.4 982 55.81 62.38
2017 EDM 82 Middle 518.3 36.7 489 454 51.9 365 347 51.3 22 20 52.4 7.8 91.2 990 57.68 56.03
2016 EDM 30 Middle 171.2 34.7 139 126 52.5 102 86.1 54.2 5 4 55.6 6.3 93.8 1001 42.59 56.79
2015 EDM 60 Middle 429.7 38.1 362 368 49.6 242 266 47.6 19 24 44.2 10.3 86.9 972 56.4 57.95
361 2371 37.5 2203 2140 50.7 1625 1540 51.3 88 103 46.1 7.41 91.13 985 52.29 57.13
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ON SH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 EDM 62 Gritensity 339.3 30.7 292 300 49.3 223 199 52.8 11 18 37.9 6.8 88.8 956 58.73 50.05
2019 EDM 61 Gritensity 320.4 28.3 324 247 56.7 237 175 57.6 11 14 44 6.3 89.7 960 53.8 51.51
2018 EDM 66 Gritensity 317.9 28.4 317 282 52.9 241 190 55.9 11 19 36.7 6.6 85.7 923 56.13 58.51
2017 EDM 82 Gritensity 402.2 28.5 377 354 51.6 273 244 52.7 18 21 46.2 8.7 88.3 970 50.66 52.21
2016 EDM 30 Gritensity 95.87 19.4 94 72 56.6 51.4 49.5 50.9 4 5 44.4 7.7 87.8 955 58.82 51.32
2015 EDM 60 Gritensity 309.5 27.5 298 275 52 230 182 55.8 11 18 37.9 6.9 87.5 944 62.92 50.8
361 1785 28.2 1702 1530 52.6 1255 1040 54.46 66 95 40.2 7.16 88.9 951 56.8 52.4

Klefbom played the most minutes against Middle, followed by Elite and Gritensity. However, he and the Oilers got crushed in goals against when facing lower competition. When on the ice he was outscored 95-66. It is interesting to note the save% was much lower against Gritensity than elite. I’d have to go look at video, but those players have a tendency to grind out goals, more than play a finesse game. When he was on the ice v. Gritensity the Oilers allowed 95 goals in 1,785 minutes, but only 90 GA in 2,232 minutes against Elite forwards.

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I will need to look at that more, but I’ve felt the Oilers lost too many battles in front of the net and on the boards the past few years, and this seems to match. Most lso, the Oilers bottom end of their forward group wasn’t that skilled, and spent more time in their own zone. We would need to analyze every goal against to get a more accurate picture. This is just my perception.

I quickly looked at Darnell Nurse’s numbers, as he has been on the team the longest with Klefbom.
In five seasons he played 2,121 v. Elite and outscored opponents 87-70 (55.4GF%).
He played 2,389 v. Middle and was outscored 84-112 (42.8GF%).
He played 1,840 v. Gritensity and was outscored 91-102 (47.1GF).

His overall 47.9GF% (262GF-284GA) was slightly higher than Klefbom’s 45.5GF% (244-288).

Now let’s look at Barrie.

Barrie
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ONSH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 TOR 70 Elite 306.3 24.2 311 308 50.2 225 252 47.1 14 20 41.2 8.6 89.3 978 54.35 54.06
2019 COL 78 Elite 418.5 31.8 411 409 50.1 270 278.4 49.3 22 19 53.7 8.9 91.2 1001 58.92 62.8
2018 COL 68 Elite 387.65 32 384 448 46.2 229 338.2 40.3 12 17 41.4 6.6 93.2 998 60.66 56.96
2017 COL 74 Elite 384.68 27.8 310 392 44.2 222 290.2 43.3 10 19 34.5 5.8 91.7 975 47.7 59.74
2016 COL 78 Elite 414.38 29 341 454 42.9 266 313.1 45.9 24 14 63.2 12.5 94.3 1068 44.09 54.01
2015 COL 80 Elite 311.73 23.3 259 355 42.2 213 224.2 48.8 18 10 64.3 11.6 94.2 1058 43.3 53.7
448 2223.24 28.01 2016 2366 46.4 1424 1696 45.7 100 99 50.25 9.1 92.31 1.013 51.5 56.8
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ONSH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 TOR 70 Middle 493.47 39 550 450 55 395 373 51.4 16 20 44.4 5.5 92.3 977 55.92 54.59
2019 COL 78 Middle 497.62 37.8 536 509 51.3 376 330.8 53.2 16 20 44.4 5.3 92.5 978 62.81 61.73
2018 COL 68 Middle 424.72 35.1 396 444 47.1 244 298.2 45 20 10 66.7 10.3 95.4 1057 56.06 56.65
2017 COL 74 Middle 551.18 39.8 489 481 50.4 326 349.8 48.2 15 31 32.6 5.7 90 956 59.74 65.75
2016 COL 78 Middle 633.32 44.3 546 639 46.1 365 438 45.5 24 20 54.5 8.5 93.9 1024 44.54 53.81
2015 COL 80 Middle 558.32 41.7 453 577 44 322 415.2 43.7 31 28 52.5 11.7 90.8 1025 45.81 52.66
448 3158.63 39.59 2970 3100 48.9 2028 2205 47.9 122 129 48.6 7.83 92.48 1.002 54.15 57.53
Season Team GP Comp TOI CTOI% CF CA CF% DFF DFA DFF% GF GA GF% ONSH% ONSV% PDO OZS% FO/60
2020 TOR 70 Gritensity 465.85 36.8 489 416 54 348 304.4 53.3 29 21 58 11.9 90.5 1024 61.72 56.8
2019 COL 78 Gritensity 399.97 30.4 423 328 56.3 286 232.5 55.2 20 14 58.8 9.3 92.1 1014 68.38 59.7
2018 COL 68 Gritensity 398.85 32.9 377 352 51.7 239 259.2 48 21 21 50 9.9 89.7 997 67.65 60.62
2017 COL 74 Gritensity 449.48 32.5 411 382 51.8 256 272 48.5 19 22 46.3 9 89.9 989 60.42 56.06
2016 COL 78 Gritensity 383.35 26.8 305 379 44.6 198 255.8 43.6 8 21 27.6 4.8 90 948 56.16 53.37
2015 COL 80 Gritensity 467.48 35 374 381 49.5 253 256.4 49.7 21 18 53.8 11.2 90.2 1013 57.31 53.01
448 2564.98 32.4 2379 2238 51.5 1579 1580 49.98 118 117 50.2 9.35 90.4 0.997 61.3 56.6

Barrie played the most against Middle, then Gritensity followed by Elite. He also played 1,600 more minutes at 5×4 than Klefbom the past six seasons. His GF% was virtually identical against Elite and Gritensity at 50.2%. And he was outscored 129-122 against Middle.

Barrie was on the ice for more dangerous Fenwick against than Klefbom, but his 49.6 GF% was much higher than Klefbom’s 45.5GF%.

Here are their GF/60 and GA/60 each year.

Barrie Klefbom
Year GF/60 GA/60 Diff GF/60 GA/60 Diff
2020 2.8 2.89 -0.09 2.39 2.77 -0.38
2019 2.64 2.42 +0.22 1.59 2.38 -0.77
2018 2.63 2.38 +0.25 2.36 2.95 -0.59
2017 1.91 3.12 -1.21 2.76 2.42 +0.34
2016 2.35 2.31 +0.04 2.19 2.55 -0.36
2015 3.14 2.51 +0.63 2.13 3.14 -1.01

Barrie has consistently produced more offence and been on the ice for more goals, while each of them have three seasons of having a lower GA/60.

Barrie made the playoffs three times, 2018-2020, while Klefbom made the postseason in 2017 and 2020. The Avs were awful in 2017, while Edmonton really struggled in 2015 and their GA reflect that. Overall the Avs were a better team the past five seasons, so that will impact the numbers. The quality of your teammates will play a factor.

However, I don’t believe Klefbom is a defensive stalwart, and while his injury is not ideal, I view the combination of Barrie and Caleb Jones replacing Klefbom and Matt Benning as an overall slight upgrade for the Oilers. Granted, I’m a big bullish on Jones and feel he is ready to take a step.

What do you think about the changes on defence?

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