Well, what a Wednesday, am I right?
First, Ryan Rishaug set Twitter ablaze by suggesting a potential trade for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Then, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman dropped this (as Jeff noted in his article about it yesterday):
One situation EDM is monitoring: Oscar Klefbom is weighing options to deal with injuries from last season. One of the possibilities is surgery that could keep him out long-term (obviously, we don’t know when next season will begin). His absence would need to be addressed.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 30, 2020
Oscar Klefbom being out changes the calculus for Ken Holland and the Oilers. As someone who is very loudly a “you must maximize the career of Connor McDavid and be as good as possible every year” guy, but with news that they’re 1D is going to be on the shelf long term, is that even right anymore?
Should the Oilers rush to fill that gap and make a questionable acquisition? It seems absolutely asinine to suggest that they don’t, but maybe they shouldn’t?
Think about it. The Oilers, even with a healthy Klefbom, were going to require a minor miracle this summer to plug their necessary holes in such a way that would allow them to compete with the Tampa Bay Lightnings of the league next season. Without Klefbom, they’ll have to add 1LD to a list that already includes a top six winger, upgrade to 3C, and another goaltender, at least. Can Ken Holland do it? Do they even have the assets to do it?
Perhaps. But maybe there’s an alternative that would be better for the Oilers now and in the future. Maybe it would be better for them to spend another season building toward maximizing their chances for next year. Maybe they don’t rush out to fill Klefbom’s skates. Maybe they move Nurse and Jones up and keep Russell (I know), knowing full well that group probably won’t be good enough, while working on methodically patching the other holes in the roster throughout the year. That would provide them information about Nurse as a real top pairing guy (which might help them make a better decision about his next contract, one way or another), and it would give them some insight as to whether Caleb Jones — who showed last year he’s probably too good for third pair work — can hack it in the top four.
Even as I type it out, I know it’s bad. I’ve argued vehemently for awhile now that any season they don’t do their level best to be as good as possible during McDavid’s prime is a bad one. But what do you do when you find out that your best defenseman is going to be out long-term? What can you do? I think, if it came to it, I’d prefer them waiting a year to them freaking out and overpaying for an Oliver Ekman-Larsson type (even if he is roughly as good) to fill the gap this year. If the D group wasn’t good with Klefbom, it won’t be good enough with Ekman-Larsson if Klefbom’s out either. So perhaps the best course of action is patience, to see whether Klefbom can return to 100% after his surgery.
Of course, maybe it’s bigger than we think. Maybe Klefbom won’t just be out for the year. Maybe he’ll be out forever?
He had to be convinced to come back for the playoffs?! Is he looking at retiring?!
So many questions.
Is Oliver Ekman-Larsson Soon To Be An Oiler? (Copper and Blue)
Hot Links: Wednesday, September 30 (Copper and Blue)
Draft Week Post No. 6: Europe On $5 A Day (Lowetide)
Edmonton Oilers Rumors Continue To Swirl Ahead Of Offseason Frenzy (Oilers Rig)
Jesse Puljujarvi’s KHL Rights Traded To SKA (Oilersnation)
Klefbom Injury Puts Desperate Spin On Oilers’ Upcoming Draft, Free Agency (Sportsnet)
Oscar Klefbom Contemplating Surgery, Could Be Out Long-Term (Oilers Rig)
Edmonton Oilers Defenceman Oscar Klefbom May Need Long-Term Surgery (Oilersnation)
Lowetide: Reconsidering Oilers’ Offseason In Light Of Oscar Klefbom Injury News (Athletic)