Oscar Klefbom, eager to play with other Swedes in Edmonton... eventually. Photo by Lisa McRitchie all rights reserved.
The dust is settling from the 2011 NHL entry draft, we await the July 1st free agency day and the hockey free dog days of summer are upon us. As we wait for July 1st, what better time than now to start trying to learn more about the new Oilers' prospects.
Much focus has been given to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as it should be. What about those other guys? The Oilers added another Swede to the fold in Oscar Klefbom selected 19th overall with the pick from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Dustin Penner. Klefbom has some size to him, especially since he was interviewed soon after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Standing at 190cm or 6'4" and 205 pounds Klefbom could be a force to be reckoned with on the Oilers' blue line, in a matter of time of course.
The Oilers had of course been interviewing a number of players throughout the season and leading up to the draft. It was asked of Klefbom if he had been given any indication that the Oilers would select him "Ya they did, but not so much. I had a feeling but not so much." Perhaps Klefbom just didn't want to stress himself out any more than he already was. Knowing that he was ranked to go mid to late first round would mean that he could go anywhere, teams seem to have extremely different rankings for many players.
It is no easy task for many young players to pack up and leave their homes to go play for their new teams, especially when the move is from across the ocean. Will having Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark make the process a llittle easier? "Ya, a lot easier since there are already other Swedes over there. They are good guys and good hockey players." As it stands, Paajarvi and Omark tend to stick together, and even spend a lot of their time with Nikolai Khabibulin, someone who can relate to them a little easier. There is of course another Swede who may be on his way over in Anton Lander, another player that Klefbom is familiar with. "He's a really good guy. I met him a few years ago for the very first time. He's a really good leader as well. So, I try to take his footsteps. So, he's a really guy, a really good player as well."
In terms of how Klefbom sees himself as a defenseman, Klefbom answered "A big strong two-way defenseman. A good skater, for my size. Pretty good first pass, good shot, good hockey sense, pretty good leadership as well." The Oilers' scouting staff are not only looking at talented Swedes, but also Swedes with leadership potential. This is not a bad thing, players that are willing to step up and will be able to handle the pressure day to day will be immensely valuable to the team going forward.
Despite his easy laugh and broad smile, Klefbom does recognize that he is not perfect as is. The thing that he needs to work on this summer: "I think I need to improve my quick feet because I have big size." That's a very typical response and of course there is a lot of upside to Klefbom's game, "I think I have a pretty good shot, so I make the shot."
Typically when looking at players, we strive to find a comparison, someone that will help us look forward. Klefbom doesn't quite see himself like that. "I don't think I try to compare myself, or try to be someone who already exists in the NHL. I just try to be myself create my own style." That is definitely something Klefbom will have the opportunity to do and work on. Currently, this Swede has a two year deal in Sweden and will play that out. It will be an excellent opportunity for him to continue to play and develop his game. By the time Klefbom makes it over, the other Swedes should have paved a path that will make it easier for Klefbom to transition. Hopefully.
Watching the players waiting to be drafted in the stands was the hardest thing to watch in the final rounds. When watching during the first round, you knew that it was a weight, but if the player was ranked to go in the first or second round you didn't feel that badly for him. When asked how it felt waiting for that 19th selection "A million thoughts in your mind of course. When my name came up, it was like 50 kilos came off at once." Right now it matters where players get selected, but in a few years, it only matters when it comes to teasing other players. Remember Ethan Moreau was selected 13th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Because Klefbom has size, and because he comes across as confident and social questions come to mind. If he had to stand up for his teammates, would Klefbom feel comfortable with it? "Of course, the day will come. It's a matter of time so I will be prepared, of course." This should be one of the most exciting aspects of Klefbom's game for several fans. After complaining and worrying that there are too many smurfs or soft Oilers, adding players who can and will fight and play a physical game.
So, there you have it folks, a quick look at new Oiler prospect Oscar Kleftbom who wasn't selected until the 27th selection in the SB Nation mock draft.