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.
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.
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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.
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
0
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.
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.
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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
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.
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*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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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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