Stop me if you've heard this before; a player has a down year. The team gets anxious, thinking they need to move this player while they still have some value and in return acquire false dreams and bags of pucks in return. Said player then proceeds to go back to their normal ways and fans begin to wonder why we can't have nice things.
This has been a pattern for years in Edmonton that becomes more prevalent during losing times such as this. In case you didn't gather from the title, today we are discussing Oscar Klefbom.
An argument always has at least two sides and there is a case for trading young Oscar. The first is his injury issues. Klefbom has only played one full season so far in his NHL career which was last season. Before coming into the NHL Klefbom had a history with injuries. He's had shoulder problems, leg problems, a concussion, and a foot issue which turned into a staff infection. Apparently this season he has been playing through a shoulder injury which has been bothering him since last years series against the Ducks.
The second argument is who else is on the Oilers left side depth chart. Sekera has a NMC for the next two seasons making moving him almost impossible. Kris Russell is a hockey player who plays for the Edmonton Oilers and also for reasons has a NMC. Darnell Nurse has been the only bright spot on the Oilers backend this season and is only 22 years old. The Oilers could run Sekera and Nurse as the left shots in the top 4 with Russell being on the third pair.
This second point might make more sense to make a deal. You trade Klefbom for a top right shot defenseman and you can run Sekera and #1 defenseman and then Nurse and Larsson and have a pretty good top 4.
Before anyone starts slamming their keyboards to say Klefbom isn't going to fetch a top right-hand defenseman calm down... because that's exactly my point. Oscar is at probably his lowest value since joining the Oilers and the team should not...once again.... sell for pennies on the dollar.
Here are a few numbers and facts to consider:
- Klefbom's partner from last season, Adam Larsson, has also had a mediocre season. For these two men it goes both ways. Klefbom last season was very successful as a puck mover while Larsson performed the shut down role admirably. This year Klefbom isn't showing that same confidence which has Larsson scrambling to get back to the zone when the Oil loses the puck. It's a vicious circle that has hampered both players.
- Last season Klefbom had 201 shots on the season. This year he is on pace for 250. However Larsson's actual S% is a feeble 2.4. Considering the prior two years were 6% and 8.3% it seems reasonable to suggest he can return to that rate.
- The Oilers are really bad this season. This seems like an obvious one. The Oilers have a -22 goal differential this season. Aside from a few players most of the team is a black hole when it comes to offense.
- Darnell Nurse is having a good season but let's not get carried away. Nurse is finally starting to put it together and has been able to introduce offense back into his puck carrying game. This is what will change him from a third pairing player to a guy who can carry a top 4 pair. Having said all that we have seen with Benning this year that younger defensemen take longer to develop. It would be a massive misstep to trade Klefbom for a top winger and then have a huge hole again on the backend when Nurse struggles.
The health issues are a concern with the player but if he can figure out a way to stay healthy I believe Klefbom should be on this team long term. He is signed to a very good contract and the numbers support that this is a down year as opposed to last season being a reach.
Chiarelli and the team need to tread very carefully. They certainly need to make moves to improve the team but this organization cannot afford another Hall or Eberle move where the return does not equal the value sent away.
Thanks for reading!