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#9 - Oscar Klefbom

The #9 player in our Top 25 Under 25 rankings is likely to see some time on the Oilers' blueline in 2014/2015—but will it be sooner or later in the season?

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

After the off-season additions of Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin, and to a lesser extent, Keith Aulie, Oscar Klefbom came into training camp on the outside looking in.

Would it be detrimental to his development if he were to make the Oilers as the seventh defender, limiting his minutes significantly compared to what he would play as a top pairing guy in Oklahoma City?

The general consensus among fans and critics seems to be that Klefbom should start the season in the AHL until he gets the call to fill in due to injury or other ill-fortune.

Here’s how our panel ranked him for this edition of the Top 25 Under 25:

Player DOB Alan Ben Bruce Curtis DB Derek Jeff JW Michael Ryan Scott Zsolt
OSCAR KLEFBOM 93/07/20 9 9 9 8 9 8 9 8 9 9 9 8

Since we ran this same series in the summer of 2013, Martin Marincin’s rise to prominence has caused Klefbom to drop ever so slightly from the 8th spot he was ranked in that July, to the 9th spot where he’s found himself on the two latest lists.

Bruce McCurdy’s post on Klefbom for the previous series provides a nice collection of scouting reports on the player during his first professional season in North America—specifically in the AHL. Strangely enough, on the very same day Bruce published the post, Klefbom was recalled to the NHL. He would spend the rest of the season with the Oilers.

Here’s what Bruce had to say at Cult of Hockey in his review of the young Swedish defender after his first lengthy stint in the bigs, albeit paired with Justin Schultz:

"...the duo displayed reasonable competence in getting the puck out of the defensive zone, even as they were apt to be chasing it when it re-entered the d-zone. There were a few adventures of the odd-man kind on pretty much a nightly basis, but also some very nice moments featuring mobility on the back end and fluidity of puck movement. On the good shifts, it wasn’t hard to envision better days ahead."

The path to the NHL has been longer than anticipated for Klefbom, the 19th overall pick in 2011, as injuries once threatened his shot at a successful career in North America, including a shoulder problem that cut his 2012-2013 campaign down to just 11 games with Farjestad.

While he’s been an occasional perpetrator of the same defensive lapses that many players his age are prone to, by my eye he still looks capable of being poised and brainy out there—with the puck and without it—so far this preseason. He’s also mobile to the point that his current listing of 6'3" and 210 lbs is almost surprising.

Unfortunately for him, he hasn't exactly gotten the preseason pairing assignments that might suggest he has a legitimate shot at a spot on the NHL roster.

It appears Martin Marincin is poised to carry his fine play over into 2014-2015, and so it remains likely that Klefbom will start the season with the Barons. That is, unless the Oilers decide to keep him as a seventh d-man and demote Keith Aulie, who, thus far in the preseason, has shown nothing to suggest that he belongs in an NHL lineup. The downside to that scenario is that Klefbom would see much less ice time than he would in OKC.

Ultimately, it’s up to the powers that be on Kingsway NW to decide what to do with Klefbom at the end of training camp. Fans can find solace in the fact that the former first round draft pick looks to be back on track after a series of injuries, both minor and major, nearly derailed his professional career.