(photo via bleacherreport.com)
The Oilers inked Oscar Klefbom to a 7 year contract with an average cap hit of 4.167 mm, the same as his friend Jonas Brodin. Peter Chiarelli is receiving a fair amount of heat for giving an inexperienced defenseman such a long contract but it’s a very safe and calculated risk, here’s why.
Leading The Charge
Klefbom led the Oilers in even strength minutes. So to anyone that says management may have jumped the gun by giving the young swede a seven year deal, I don’t think there’s a team in the league that would be upset with having to pay their time on ice leader just a shade over four million.
By no means is he an advanced stats gem. I took a look at the Vollman Sledgehammer for the Oilers and his positioning on that graph isn’t a great spot. His quality of competition wasn’t anything other than average and he saw some light zone starts, mainly since he played with an offensive partner in Justin Schultz.
However, there were some numbers that impressed me with Klefbom. He played on a mainly offensive pairing, in which he had to carry the load in most cases, and he did a very good job in that role.
He led the team in Points/60 and shot the puck 4.52 times per 60 minutes, which was second only to Nikita Nikitin. The high shots/60 really backs up what I see when I watch Klefbom play, that not only is he a very intelligent defenseman, but he plays the game with a a lot of confidence and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck. This is usually a problem with a lot of young defenseman (take his partner Schultz for example), they become perfectionists and look for the perfect lane and often hold onto the puck for too long. Instead Oscar has the confidence in his shot and isn’t paranoid about open lanes and can just let the puck go.
I would love to see Klefbom get a shot with a defender like Andrej Sekera, someone with a little more defensive zone responsibility/reliability than Justin Schultz. Having a stronger defensive partner could allow Klefbom to take more gambles.
Where Does He Sit?
I ran the numbers on defenseman who played more then 500 minutes this past season and Klefbom came in the top fifty in Fenwick/60, assists/60, and individual Corsi/60. His Corsi relative (9.4) was a top twenty among his peers. Those aren’t bad credentials, especially considering he’s one of the only players in that area who will be paid under 4.5 million dollars.
There are always concerns with young defenseman, but I just have a tough time finding any major holes in Klefbom’s game. He keeps calm with the puck and he has a solid presence in both ends of the rink. The only real concern would be his lack of physical play. Sometimes he’ll get caught using his stick in scenarios where I’d rather see him take the body but that’s something that will come as he matures and grows more confident in the league.
The Oilers paid 4.167 million for a 21 year old stud who is projecting to be a top pairing d-man in the NHL. Not only is it a safe gamble, but in 3-4 years we could be talking about this signing as one of the biggest bargains in the league.