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Oilers Sign Oscar Klefbom

Busy winning gold at the World Juniors.
Busy winning gold at the World Juniors.

The Edmonton Oilers have signed defender Oscar Klefbom to an entry-level contract that will begin either next season or in 2013-14 if Klefbom spends next season in Europe. With the current CBA expiring in September, it's interesting to see both parties comfortable enough with the current system to do a deal now. I think that there was much more risk in a new CBA for Klefbom than there was for the Oilers since I think that it's quite possible we see young players get thrown under the bus a bit in negotiations (we could easily see five-year instead of three-year entry-level contracts, for example, if the owners give something else back to the players). Still, by putting pen to paper now, the Oilers avoid a tense situation before next season's draft (when Klefbom could re-enter if he is left unsigned), and Klefbom guarantees himself about $500,000 in earnings (minor league salary plus signing bonuses) regardless of his performance or health. The cap hit on the deal looks to be $1.275M. After the jump, I'll compare that number to some of Klefbom's draft peers.

The players listed below are all of the players who have signed an NHL contract that were selected somewhere between 14th and 24th overall in the 2009, 2010, or 2011 NHL entry draft. The maximum base salary for 2009 and 2010 was $900,000 while for 2011 it was $925,000, so we should expect slightly higher cap hits for the players selected most recently. Here's the chart:


A couple of things before we talk about Klefbom:

  • Based on compensation alone, the 2010 entry draft looks quite a bit weaker than 2009 and 2011. It'll be interesting to see if that's the consensus five years from now.
  • I wonder how much the dispute between Tim Erixon and Calgary had to do with playing in Calgary (as was reported) and how much it had to do with money. Erixon was paid way above his slot by the Rangers.
  • Teams like New Jersey and Pittsburgh just don't give out performance bonuses that create a cap hit higher than the maximum base salary. Pittsburgh hasn't done it since they picked Jordan Staal, and New Jersey just plain hasn't done it, which is particularly impressive in the case of Adam Larsson. If I had a client in this year's draft, I'd be hoping to avoid those two teams.
Back to Klefbom, you can see that there's a pretty tight range here with almost all of the players involved getting the maximum base salary. The difference in cap hit is almost always just a difference in performance bonuses available. Klefbom ends up near the top of this list, grouped in with the players chosen ahead of him rather than with the players chosen after him.

I think that's mostly a good thing because it indicates that Klefbom is a very good prospect. The obvious concern is his lack of offense with just four points in his fifty-six career SEL games. That concern is mitigated somewhat by his lack of ice time in those games, but it's not like a lack of ice time is something to celebrate. Still, the scouting reports have generally been positive, and Klefbom has, in fact, looked good in the few times I've been able to watch him play (at the World Juniors). Hopefully he gets some more ice time next season and the offense follows.