by Lisa McRitchie on 01/07/12 at 05:30 AM ET
With the Edmonton Oilers’ current state of affairs, a first round draft pick in the waiting is something to get excited about. Enter Oscar Klefbom.
Drafted at 19th in the 2011 NHL entry draft with the Los Angeles pick acquired in the trade deadline day Dustin Penner trade, many were surprised Klefbom was still available. But as Klefbom’s name was called, fans already started slotting him into the roster in two years time.
Unfortunately for Klefbom, the luck of the Oilers appeared to be immediate. Suffering a laceration to his leg, a subsequent infection from the laceration and then a concussion, Klefbom’s season in the Swedish Elite Leageue (SEL) got a little more complicated. Klefbom spent some time in the junior league, and then appeared as though his trip t the world juniors may not go as planned.
Fortunately, Klefbom made the cut along with his defencive partner from Färjestad BK, Jonas Brodin. Together, Klefbom and Brodin formed the first shutdown defencive pairing for the Tre Kronor, Three Crowns, the Swedish U20 team at the 2012 IIHF World Juniors.
Sweden was undefeated, beating Latvia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland and Russia, twice. This was accomplished while remaining middle of the pack in every category; scoring efficiency, power play, penalty killing, goalkeeping and number of penalties taken.
For Klefbom, his personal numbers can be considered much more impressive. Klefbom has 1 goal, 1 assist, 23 shots on goal and finished the tournament at +8. That +8 tied Klefbom for third at the tournament.
Klefbom impressed not only Oiler fans, he was voted by the media as one of the top defenceman of the tournament along with Canadian Brandon Gormley.But, it is Oiler fans who will continue to be interested in Klefbom’s progress and development.
Earning high praise from Sweden’s head coach Roger Ronnberg, Klefbom developed throughout Team Sweden’s World Juniors selection camps and pre-tournament games. “I think he’s getting better and better, but he’s a hell of a character.” Explained Ronnberg, “He’s a guy who’s always coming out and competing hard, always giving us good play from the backend. He can play both with the puck and without the puck so I’m happy with him.”
Ronnberg also recognizes that “He’s a born leader; he truly can be a captain one day in the team that he is playing for.”
Easily, Klefbom was among the top players in another regard at the IIHF World Juniors; Klefbom is one of the happiest and most outgoing players. Klefbom’s is a more subtle confidence as opposed to a player such as Nail Yakapov. You would never know that Klefbom is a highly rated hockey player just by looking at or talking to him, he seems to hang on your every word in much the same way you can’t help but be captivated by everything he has to say. Klefbom also has a great sense of humour, bringing people to laughter easily and with well thought out jests.
The Oilers and their fans have much to look forward to with this young man. Especially now that he has made a trip to Edmonton and seen the team play live. Team Sweden played team Canada in a pre-tournament game in Edmonton. Before that however, the Oilers played their last home game of 2011 as Klefbom and the rest of the Swedish team watched.
“It was a very nice feeling to watch them play. A million thoughts in my head so it was very fun.” Klefbom said of the experience. Of course one of those thoughts had to be that this team is not yet where they want to be. Perhaps this is where Klefbom can especially be of some help.
“It was a great city. What I saw was a nice city, nice people as well,” recalled Klefbom. And the building itself, “It’s a classic really. It’s old culture, old hockey culture. It was awesome.” So long as Klefbom doesn’t stay in Sweden too long, he should get the opportunity to play in Rexall Place. The new arena will be quite a few years away, but hopefully it will encompass all that Klefbom appreciated in the old arena.
Just as with all of the Oiler prospects, Klefbom has an individualised plan and his own page on the Oilers website where he is able to review what the Oilers have prepared for him. Also, Billy Moores, coordinator of player development is in constant contact with Klefbom. Even Oilers’ head coach Tom Renney checks in with Klefbom from time to time. Because Klefbom already has great size, his focus is on “Quick feet, puck handling, it’s everything that I try to improve.”
Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark have led the way for the Oilers’ Swedish invasion, and Anton Lander has been the most recent addition. It is interesting that it is only Lander who is still with the big club while Paajarvi and Omark are with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL, but Klefbom has known Anton Lander for a few years. And so, while in Edmonton, the two were able to get together and talk. Lander was able to tell Klefbom more about the Oilers and the city of Edmonton and to Klefbom the whole experience was “lot’s of fun.”
Klefbom has another year on his current contract with Färjestad BK, so don’t expect him in Edmonton next year. Right now, Klefbom is looking to play, and for the most part the situation is the more minutes the better. While celebrating and talking about the gold medal win, Klefbom made special note to say how special it was to him to be playing in Canada and especially Alberta. And so, Klefbom is not giving any indication that he will not sign an entry level contract with the Oilers before they lose their rights.
At this point in time, Klefbom is one of the most important prospects for the Edmonton Oilers. May his golden success continue.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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