Oscar Klefbom is viewed as most “NHL ready” of the high end blue prospects by the Oiler organization, but was unable to make the big club during training camp. His time in Oklahoma City should give him the experience needed (smaller ice, quicker decisions) to begin a long, strong NHL career in 2014.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER TWO ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: G Jeff Deslauriers
- December 2005: C Marc-Antoine Pouliot
- December 2006: C Rob Schremp
- December 2007: C Andrew Cogliano
- December 2008: R Jordan Eberle
- December 2009: R Jordan Eberle
- December 2010: R Jordan Eberle
- December 2011: C Anton Lander
- December 2012: D Justin Schultz
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Redline Report: Klefbom is a real Red Line favorite. He’s certainly the most overlooked of the top prospects, but is the best pure passer of the bunch, and his skating ranks only behind Murphy. He already makes pro style passes — crisp and with touch — and excels at breaking the trap with tremendous stretch passes through the neutral zone, showing great vision. He was also the natural leader on Sweden’s national under-18 team. All this comes wrapped in a 6-3, 196-pound package, and Klefbom has really stepped up the physical aspect of his game over the last 12 months. At Red Line, we believe he might ultimately become the best all-around balance of offensive upside and physical strength in this year’s class.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2011: 2
- Winter 2011: 3
- Summer 2012: 3
- Winter 2012: 3
- Summer 2013: 3
- Winter 2013: 2
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- MacT in spring: “Klefbom is a guy everybody is anxiously awaiting to come into our lineup. It’s always dangerous to have too high of expectations for a young player, but he’s a very complete player for such a young player, so I think he’s going to really help back there”
- More MacT in spring: “It’s never a bad thing to get a little of experience in the American Hockey League, but he’s very, very close because he did play last year against men (in the Swedish Elite League) for a short period of time before he got hurt.”
- More More MacT in spring: “In the course of what I was doing this year early, I took a trip to Farjestad to watch Oscar. I went in there with one of our Swedish scouts, Pelle Eklund, and it was one of those games where I walked in, sat down, watched warm-up, Oscar came on the ice. The team that they were playing, Modo at the time, dumped the puck in the corner. Oscar pivoted and went back hard and fast for the puck. He fought off a pretty physical forecheck, turned to the back of the net, made a movement of the puck, a simple play, a direct pass up to the wall. That player subsequently turned the puck over. Oscar closed the gap in a hurry in the corner, used his stick, finished his check, knocked the guy off the puck, spun the other side of the net and moved the puck out. I turned to Pelle at the time and said, we can pretty much pack up our briefcase right now and get outta here, I’ve seen enough. I’m always a little bit skeptical when I hear very positive things without having seen them myself. I wanted to spend that trip, get over, take a look at Oscar and we have high hopes that he’ll be a part of our team very quickly. Whether he needs some time, we like to think that all players are benefited from some sort of time in the American Hockey League. Oscar, having played with men this year, might be an exception, but that will be determined at training camp for him.”
- Corey Pronman: ”NHL GM on newly signed Oscar Klefbom. “Physically mature, great skater. Projects to play against best players and some offense.”
- Todd Nelson: “Oscar is a defenseman’s defenseman. He really prides himself on playing good defensive hockey. He skates well. He’s a strong kid. He’s able to move the puck. He’s got a lot of skill. He just needs to play hockey games.”
Klefbom is a top flight 2-way defensive prospect who fits the modern game. Good skater, physical and willing to jump into the play. Decision making has improved since draft day, injuries are a concern. Klefbom’s SEL totals (67, 3-4-7) and current AHL numbers (12, 0-1-1 -4) suggest he’s not going to get a lot of powerplay time, but the issues Edmonton is facing in their own end currently are listed on his resume. Good speed, good decisions, good passer. It’s only a matter of time, according to the scouts.
Klefbom was thought to be close entering training camp, but the organization sent him down and haven’t sent for him yet. Based on several reports, it’s likely he’ll spend most or all of his debut North American season in the minors:
- Todd Nelson: “Here in the minors we learn to play defensive hockey, how to play away from the puck, something he does pretty well. He’s a good skater. He can handle the puck. He has all those skills. He has that mindset of playing defense. That’s a big plus. He just needs some experience.”
- MacT today (Nov 14): “I thought Klefbom would be ready to play at NHL level at beginning of the season, I was wrong about that.”
- Jonathan Willis: Klefbom recorded his first career AHL point with the primary assist on Joel Broda’s second period goal. After the game, Todd Nelson was impressed by his ability to win puck battles along the board and said that’s something Klefbom can bring with him to the next level when he makes the jump. Klefbom also excelled at making breakout passes tonight.
I asked Jonathan Willis (who is in Oklahoma City covering the Barons this season for the Cult of Hockey) to give us his overall view of Klefbom as a player and how far he is from the NHL.
- Willis: Klefbom has generally played quite well. He skates well, engages physically and moves the puck exceptionally for a defensive defenceman. The problem is that he’s still awfully raw. He doesn’t think the game like an NHL defenceman; he’ll get there but he needs time. How much time? At this point I’d pencil him in for third pairing minutes in the NHL next season and leave him with Todd Nelson for the rest of this year. He’s killing penalties and learning both sides of the ice in Oklahoma; it’s better for him to make those mistakes down here than at the NHL level where it’s going to cost the team and open the player up to high levels of criticism.
(cover photo by Rob Ferguson, others by Lisa McRitchie. All rights reserved).
In selecting Oscar Klefbom as the second best prospect for winter 2013, it’s with the knowledge that his ‘range of skills’ is extremely unlikely to include much offense when he arrives in the NHL. I believe he’ll clear the Smid-level contributions but will not play in all three disciplines as an NHL player. In this way, he trails Darnell Nurse and two others on the list in terms of range, but his defensive ability earns him this rank.