We don't know a whole lot about Oscar Klefbom. His official measurements at the combine were 6'2.5'' and 204 lbs., so he's got NHL size already, which is certainly a plus. Internationally, he played well in the U-20 World Junior Championships over Christmas, and was Sweden's captain for the U-18 World Championships. He also played for the best team in the Swedish Elite League, which is impressive. But... he averaged just 8:22 per game in his 23 games. That's not a lot of ice time, and it makes for three small samples that make it hard to evaluate Klefbom statistically. We can infer that Klefbom was playing in all of the important situations internationally, and none of the important situations for his club in Sweden, but that's really about it.
Previous Rank: N/A
So what about the scouting reports? Klefbom wasn't always regarded highly. Even in January, TSN had him ranked 45th in their mid-term rankings, and Decentralized Scouting had him 8th among Europeans behind guys like Max Friberg and Miikka Salomaki. But something changed. Red Line Report gave a very favorable review in March:
Likely the most surprising name for many of you will be Klefbom. Not even thought of by most scouts in his native Sweden to be in the same class as countrymen Adam Larsson and Jonas Brodin, we find him to be one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Big, smooth skating, and powerful with great vision and passing skills. Raw as hell on the defensive side of the game, but we'd take a chance on teaching him about his own end.
And it seemed like all the verbal from that point forward was mostly positive. This is what Kirk Leudeke had to say about Klefbom before the U-18 tournament:
Oscar Klefbom is an intriguing defender rising up the various draft boards because of his size and offensive upside. Although not the all-around defender his teammate Brodin is, Klefbom nevertheless is more of a visible presence on the ice and does more to key the attack... This excellent skater and skilled player loves to join the rush and has strong offensive instincts.
And this is what he said after the preliminary round of that tournament:
Sweden's top puck rusher is Brodin's teammate in Farjestad and is a much flashier prospect because he zooms up the ice like he's been shot from a cannon, fires the puck hard and plays a more aggressive, dynamic style. He may not be Brodin's equal defensively or even in how he processes and thinks the game, but we love the way he activates at the right time and will jump into the play....
And since we've heard him talk about his strengths, here's what Leudeke had to say about Klefbom's weaknesses just before the draft:
Undisciplined; attacking style lands him in trouble when he pinches at wrong times. Not an overly instinctive player.... Hockey sense may not be good enough for him to reach the production levels his pure talent would allow for. Rough around the edges and has to guard against taking bad penalties, but no major flaws in his game.
And just for some variety, here's what Scott Campbell of the Scouting Report had to say in June:
The Swede is a very mobile player who has a nice technical stride and has the strength to fight through checks with his combination of speed and power. With the puck, Klefbom has a calming presence on the ice and makes good decisions with the puck. He is a capable puck mover when he has the opportunity but also knows when to use the glass or the boards to clear the puck out... One of the biggest strengths Klefbom has is the amount of passion he plays with. He's a natural leader and carries himself in that regard on the ice. He competes hard and can make life difficult for opposing forwards with his tenacity and willingness to engage physically.
By the time the draft rolled around, Klefbom had shot up the rankings to become a sure-fire first round pick. This because of some good tournaments, and some incredible tools. He's a big, fast defender who likes to handle the puck and seems to have good instincts with it, who might just have some meanness to his game too. If things work out, he could be great! I just feel like there's an awful lot we don't know, and the concerns about his hockey sense in the defensive zone are, well, concerning. But the limited playing time is the main reason I've got Klefbom down in 13th... or maybe it's because he's a defenseman - he is, after all, the highest-rated defenseman on my list so far.