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Top 25 Under 25: #3 - Oscar Klefbom

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The Oilers' number one slides up from 7th to 3rd in this year's edition of the Top 25 under 25.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Klefbom is a revelation. The Oilers' best defender finally found some offense last season and truly cemented himself as the team's top pairing left side defenseman moving forward.

How'd we vote?

SHONA COREY DEREK PATRICK MATT SCOTT JEFF
3 3 3 2 2 5 3


As you can see, Klefbom gets a lot of love even in the most pessimistic parts of Oil Country. While Scott sees him a little lower down the list than our consensus, in my opinion it speaks more to the quality of forwards at the top end of the Oilers' under-25 list than it does Klefbom's ability - but it's not such a large perception gap that it bears interrogation. That said, I'm also just lazy and didn't ask Scott to elaborate. I apologize to exactly none of you.

Oscar Klefbom is a legitimate #1 defenseman by basically every measure now that his offense has finally started to emerge. He grades out at good to great in every measure that matters for a defenseman, controlling the shot share battle via healthy contributions to shot generation and supression, 33rd in NHL scoring among defensemen last season, and all of the tools you'd like to see in a real workhorse - size, speed, and the ability to move the puck up the ice with competence and consistency. Klefbom is the real deal. Perhaps call him Holyfield, or something even more clever. Like Evander Holyfield.

That the Oilers brass managed to secure him to a long-term contract with an AAV less than $5MM through the entirety of his physical prime is nothing to be scoffed at, and as someone who regularly accuses the Oilers' brass of trying to fellate themselves it must be said that they deserve full credit for that bit of business.

(HERO chart courtesy ownthepuck.blogspot.ca)

As I said, virtually every stat available right now aligns with the idea that Klefbom has matured into a legitimate #1 defenseman, but the most encouraging part about Klefbom's year for me was his ability to play 82 games. Given that this was a player who had yet to dress for even 61 games in any of his previous professional seasons, this was a big step. Especially after last summer's rumors of a nasty staph infection and skin so thin that simply wearing socks might amputate his feet. Or something, I'm not a doctor.

In the end, this is why I have Klefbom so high on the list: a true-blue #1 who is only just 24 is something absolutely every team wants, and every good team needs. Look for Klefbom to continue to add some offense as he gets more looks on the PP - especially with Sekera out for a few months - and to continue to trend as he has been at even strength on both sides of the puck since his debut: