In the not too distant future, the Edmonton Oilers blue line will be patrolled by men named Oscar Klefbom, Griffin Reinhart, Darnell Nurse and other men under 25. The hope (for me) is one of these men emerges as a ‘complete’ NHL defenseman, able to play in any situation and to play substantial minutes every night.
CFP AND THE 2014-15 OILERS
The Oilers had a helluva team in 2005-06 and this is reflected in Pronger’s numbers, but the real key is that total time on ice. For basically half a game, and that’s all year, the Oilers employed the Rake and as you’ll recall Pronger on the ice was basically Trump’s Wall brought to the NHL.
Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson employed Klefbom mostly at even strength (his 19:47 per game ranked him No. 15 overall in the NHL last season) and that’s a terrific number. Seriously. Klefbom’s offense last year was a pleasant surprise, he was No. 3 among rookie defenseman and had significant impact among Oilers blue:
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.90 (1st among regular D)
- 5×4 points per 60: 4.71 (1st among regular D)
- Qual Comp: 5th toughest among D
- Qual Team: best available among D
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 49.9
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: 9.4
- Zone Start: 58.0%
- Zone Finish: 52.6%
- Shots on goal/percentage: 98 shots/2.0%
- Boxcars: 60, 2-18-20
NURSE AND REINHART
If we’re in Vegas betting, who among this trio has the best offensive potential? I think all three should be able to handle PK and even strength (Klefbom is clearly there) but what about the power play? Are any of these men destined for it? Who among them is most likely to post 40 points in a season? 30? Here are the latest NHLE’s from their most recent non-NHL season (and Klefbom’s NHL season):
- Oscar Klefbom 2014-15 NHL 60GP, 2-18-20 .333 points-per-game
- Darnell Nurse 2014-15 OHL: 82GP, 7-16-23 .280 points-per-game
- Griffin Reinhart 2014-15 AHL: 82GP, 5-11-16 .195 points-per-game
Klefbom’s SEL seasons and really his first NA year seem to have obscured some offensive talent. I watched him last night (and the other two) and for me there’s maybe something there. Is Klef the best offensive option of the three? And do any of them have much of a future on the power play.
If these three men end up scoring at about the pace of Steve Staios when the Oilers were good (26-28 points)—while delivering solid defensive play ala Staios/Jason Smith—would you consider that to be a disappointment? I can’t imagine being disappointed.
The rest of this decade and into next, if the Oilers are going to produce a quality offensive defensemen it’ll be either Justin Schultz or Joey Laleggia—or God forbid Jakob Chychrun is available when Edmonton selects in 2016. For Schultz, the possibility of being a part of this Oilers team moving forward has taken on a life of its own in the last 24 hours, and a lot of that comes from his performance last night.
I’m interesting the Schultz progress and intrigued by Klefbom in all of this. Mobile, wide range of skills, 6.03, 210, sturdy, rugged. The devils who count Swedish second assists may have given us a false reading on the offense. Are we looking at (eventually) Edmonton’s first complete defenseman since the Big Unit?