There is plenty of chatter around the Oilers coming up to the deadline. Some say they will be looking to add a 3rd line center, backup goalie and a puck moving defenseman to anchor the powerplay.
The elite offensive defenseman is seen as more of a long-term goal for the team, some say that’s the final piece they really need to add to complete their core.
I don’t think that’s as much of a need, simply because they already have a young, cost-controlled defender who has been producing offensive chances like few others in the league can.
Oscar Klefbom is enjoying a breakout season right now, and even that’s an understatement.
The Swede only had 7 goals in his first 107 NHL games, this season he already has 11 in 62 games. This level of offense isn’t just new to Oscar in terms of his NHL career. In his 4 professional seasons before he made the jump to the NHL (3 with Farjestads BK Karlstad and 1 with the Oklahoma City Barons) he only put up 4 goals… in 115 professional games. That’s a staggering difference and finding a player who has quickly found elite offensive talent this quickly is unheard of, but there is an explanation as to what has led to his success.
Most young offensive defenders have their numbers spike due to protected minutes and time on the powerplay, but that hasn’t been the case with Oscar.
First off, Klefbom is shooting pucks at an incredibly high rate. His 7.35 shots/60 at even strength is 3rd among regular NHL defenders, only Dougie Hamilton (8.26) and Brent Burns (8.96) put more pucks on net.
He shoots a lot, and he gets the puck on net, which is a huge reason why he’s been able to score at such a high rate. At 5v5, his 0.47 goals/60 is 2nd amongst regular defenders. Only Brent Burns producing at a higher rate, with a 0.98 goals/60.
On the surface, this may seem like an anomaly, just a player who has found some good luck, but that’s not the case. As I pointed out above, he is creating chances like few other in the league can. His individual positive Corsi events per 60 are 13.12, which puts him in the top 10 amongst regular NHL defenders.
In terms of puck luck, there hasn’t been a ton of that either. He’s generating plenty of shot attempts, scoring a lot, and yet his shooting percentage is still sitting at 7.03%, which is a very normal number. For reference, Brent Burns is currently scoring on 10.91% of his shots, which much more to the unsustainable side then Klefbom’s number.
Another factor worth noting, Klefbom has not been sheltered. His zone starts are pretty well split with 30% of his shifts starting in his own end, 36% in the neutral zone, and 33% starting in the offensive zone. He’s also spent a good portion of the season paired with Adam Larson on the team’s top pairing
and has been used against plenty of tough competition.
While at times he has struggled with the heavy defensive workload, he works well with Adam Larson, and having the fellow Swede by his side has helped his offensive game continue to blossom.
So while some will say that Peter Chiarelli should be ready to sell off a forward to get a Tyson Barrie or Kevin Shattenkirk, I will stand in Oscar Klefbom’s corner. He has produced like an elite offensive defender both on the powerplay and at even strength. He has been used in all scenarios and works so well with your current #1 defender, that there really is no need to change that.