Oscar Klefbom. Much like his much ballyhooed fellow prospect Anton Lander, he is one of those names you’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever. From his time in Sweden to his year off with injury, to local training camps and the OKC Barons, he has seemed like the second coming of Chris Pronger that never will arrive. So, will he? Well, truth be told, we still don’t know. Since his arrival stateside, he has been engulfed by a rabid group of prospects who are as good or better than he is. He has a ton to prove.
His competition is stiff. Martin Marincin was a surprise late in the season last year, and the spot is his to lose. We all know Darnell Nurse is determined to make the team, too, but it seems he may require one more season to get his pro feet beneath him. Then there’s guys like Dillon Simpson or Martin Gernat who are closer to being ready for bigger roles in the organization.
The Oilers also have two major defenders on one year bridge deals. Jeff Petry is signed for one year at 3 million, while Justin Schultz (more on this later today) has signed for 3.675 million on a one year deal as well.
Now, a guy can sometimes telegraph the plans a team is making by what they don’t do. In both cases, they haven’t made long term commitments to either of them. Petry has been good over the years, not great. Schultz clearly possesses offensive acumen, but is still a liability in his own zone, finding himself unable to thwart the competition.
Klefbom has an opportunity. He can be the big, strong, aggressive defender the team needs, or he can allow another prospect to pass him. All of these young d-men can make Petry and Schultz expendable. Should they do so, the Oilers may have the leverage to trade for a second line center. Petry, Schultz and some picks might do the trick. If so, Klefbom and friends have an open door. On the other hand, Petry and Schultz might slam it shut, too.