Oscar Klefbom photo by Rob Ferguson
Oscar Klefbom was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. It was Season 2 for the hit series Oil Change! and the club finally dedicated a first-round selection to a defenseman who could skate. After that, we got reports from Sweden about skills, shoulders, concussions and infections. I wrote about 12 posts on this blog with the title Dammit Oscar! as injuries and maladies impacted his possible future.
The photo you see is from October 5, 2013, as the Oklahoma City Barons played the Charlotte Checkers in a game at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The boxscore is here.
I loved watching him play. Klefbom was Edmonton’s best defenseman for much of his time with the team, a two-way defender who played big minutes and scored some memorable goals. If this is it, sail on Färjestad BK Klefbom, we’ll never forget you and we are hurting because we didn’t get more time to watch you play this beautiful game. Be well.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- New Jonathan Willis: How underappreciated Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry became a Canadiens mainstay
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers return to the WHL prospect pool in the 2021 draft?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect pipeline could be at stake as AHL coach Jay Woodcroft outgrows his minor-league role
- DNB and Dom: How the Oilers should value pending UFAs
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations eat dust during Connor McDavid’s dream season
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
NHLE’S FROM 2015
Ever wonder if NHL equivalencies predict future NHL success? The answer is yes! And no. For top end talent, graduating juniors chosen in the top-5 overall, it works like a damn. For the future checking center who peaks at 11 goals and 21 points in an NHL season, it’s not tracking the future at all. Here are the 2015 numbers:
- Connor McDavid 82GP, 23-40-63 (407 NHL games)
- Leon Draisaitl 82GP, 15-26-41 (478)
- Andrew Miller 82GP, 15-20-35 (15)
- Kyle Platzer 82GP, 12-17-29
- Anton Slepyshev 82GP, 17-11-28 (102)
- Iiro Pakarinen 82GP, 16-10-26 (134)
- Greg Chase 82GP, 8-16-24
- Bogdan Yakimov 82GP, 10-13-23 (1)
- L Kale Kessy 82GP, 8-8-16
- Jujhar Khaira 82GP, 4-5-9 (258)
- Mitch Moroz 82GP, 3-3-6
- Travis Ewanyk 82GP, 2-3-5
NHLE predicted McDavid and Draisaitl were going to play a lot of games and score many points, but I think the hockey world had that surrounded in the summer of 2015. It did tell us there were no skill forwards beyond those two men, though, and that there’s a certain randomness about the bottom-six forwards who make it. Slepyshev is a tweener by this measure and Khaira succeeded for reasons other than his offense. What does that mean for the current group? Well, I’d say we’re all underrating Ostap Safin.
- Joey Laleggia 82GP, 14-23-37
- Brad Hunt 82GP, 11-19-30 (191 NHL games)
- Darnell Nurse 82GP, 7-16-23 (406)
- Jordan Oesterle 82GP, 5-9-14 (252)
- Ben Betker 82GP, 2-10-12
- Dillon Simpson 82GP, 2-9-11 (3)
- David Musil 82GP, 1-7-8 (4)
- Brandon Davidson 82GP, 3-4-7 (180)
What does NHLE tell us about the future of defensemen? Not as much as one would hope, although three of the top four names on this list landed NHL careers. I can’t tell you that NHLE predicted Nurse’s offense (in his most recent 82 NHL games, Nurse has posted 17-31-48) but he did pass the 20-points threshold NHLE and that’s a line in the sand I use as a measure of possible future success. I think size and skating ability are things to look for in defensemen, suggesting Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg are the players to watch in the modern group.
2020-21 NHL EQUVALENCIES (F)
- Dylan Holloway (Big-10) 41.6
- Ryan McLeod (AHL) 39.9
- Tyler Benson (AHL) 39.9
- Cooper Marody (AHL) 37.8
- Kirill Maksimov (VHL) 31.2
- Carter Savoie (NCHC) 30.0
- Tyler Tullio (OHL 2019-20) 28.2
- Raphael Lavoie (Allsvenskan) 26.0
- Maxim Denezhkin (VHL) 21.2
- Joe Gambardella (AHL) 19.2
- Maxim Berezkin (MHL) 16.5
- Filip Engaras (Hockey East) 16.1
- Ostap Safin (AHL) 10.9
- Skyler Brind’Amour (ECAC) 8.8
- Patrik Siikanen (Liiga) 7.2
- Jeremias Lindewall (Allsvenskan) 4.1
Don’t expect McDavid or Draisaitl level talent, but Holloway and Savoie are young and deliver offense. Benson is on par with Miller and three years younger, that’s a positive. Anyone above 30 NHLE is worth tracking and I’ll include Tullio because we’re using his 2019-20 number here. Lavoie is a little low but his 2019-20 number (35) was solid so I’ll suggest he’s on track as a possible top-six solution.
2020-21 NHL EQUVALENCIES (D)
- William Lagesson (Allsvenskan) 25.3
- Evan Bouchard (Allsvenskan) 21.8
- Theodor Lennstrom (AHL) 14.7
- Philip Broberg (SHL) 13.7
- Filip Berglund (SHL) 12.2
- Markus Niemelainen (AHL) 11.4
- Dmitri Samorukov (KHL) 11.0
- Matt Cairns (NCHC) 8.0
- Mike Kesselring (AHL) 5.7
- Phil Kemp (AHL) 3.3
You may recall Lagesson was on fire in the Allsvenskan during the year, he landed in the NHL and was hot news for a time. I’m not exactly sure where he is as an Oilers player at this point in time. Bouchard’s numbers in the Allsvenskan were good if unspectacular, Broberg got some power play time so his numbers were stronger this year. I see him as a match for Klefbom, whose NHLE (same age, same league) was 13.0 back in the 2012-13 season. Samorukov may eat everyone’s lunch, this is an interesting group.
OILERS EXPANSION LIST
Klefbom’s news means Holland and the Oilers have a decision to make. If the big defender can’t play in 2021-22, and based on Jason Gregor’s intel things are heading that way, the protected list might look like this:
- Goalie: Alex Stalock
- Defensemen: Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones
- Forwards: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson, Josh Archibald, Jujhar Khaira
That would mean G Mikko Koskinen, G Stuart Skinner, D William Lagesson, D Kris Russell, D Oscar Klefbom, LW James Neal, RW Zack Kassian, RW Kyle Turris, LW Devin Shore, RW Cooper Marody and LW Dominik Kahun are available.
If I’m Seattle, it’s Kahun.