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Is Klefbom and the Surrounding Defensive Cast Enough?

Jason Gregor and Ryan Rishaug had an interesting conversation today regarding the Edmonton Oilers and their defensive core. The basis of the discussion revolved around Oscar Klefbom and whether or not he was a top-pair defenseman.

Rishaug didn't think Klefbom — or potentially any defenseman on the Oilers right now — had the stuff to be a top-pairing lefty. Gregor wasn't 100% sure suggesting some defensemen take longer than others to develop into that role. Both agreed that if the Oilers didn't have a true number-one lefty, they needed to get one.


That leads us to two questions. First, are they correct in their assessment? Is the Oilers defense enough to not just be competitive, but actually win a playoff series or two? If not, what should the Oilers do to create a team that can?

Klefbom As a 3 or 4


Klefbom will likely battle it out for the lead on the Edmonton Oilers in points this season from the blue line. He's one point behind Andrej Sekera with 12 points. He's also struggled with inconsistency.

If you don't count Connor McDavid, Klefbom has, on certain nights, been one of the Oilers best players. Then on other nights, he's been poor. He's found himself in the doghouse on numerous occasions and been demoted from the top-pair when he's leaving big gaps and letting players walk around him. He's looked like a defenseman that can do almost anything and he's look defeated. Does all this mean he's not a number one?

The real question is, was he ever?

It's easy to forget that Klefbom is only 23-years-old and has only played in 139 NHL games. As Dale Tallon used to say, you can't tell what you have in a defenseman until they are 300 games into their career. Klefbom isn't even half- way there yet.

The Oilers badly wanted Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom to be the answer on Edmonton's top-pair. That's a duo with less than 450 NHL games combined. It's a lot to ask and sometimes they look like they can be that good. Other times, it's clear their development isn't at the point where Edmonton can rely on them every game. Larsson seems to have fewer peaks and valley's than Klefbom does, but the pairing is definitely a work in progress.

So Now What?


If it is determined that Klefbom is a wonderful second-pair defenseman, but not a great first-pairing option, what do the Oilers do? It's rare for a team to trade for or acquire via free agency a true top-pair left-handed defenseman. Edmonton will have to get lucky or give up a huge peice.

The alternative is to draft and develop that player. Perhaps the Oilers have already done so. Could the Oilers already have that guy in Darnell Nurse?

The Present 


It's way too soon to tell exactly what the Oilers top-four is and could become. In the absence of certainty, perhaps the Oilers intend to win by committee.

The thinking could be, with one of the best players in the world (McDavid), a strong goaltender (Talbot) and a well-rounded group of 3's and 4's on defense, it's enough to get them into the playoffs and perhaps win a round. Maybe for this year, the goal is to simply be competitive.

But, being competitive and being a championship caliber team are not the same thing. Eventually, that's where the Oilers need and want to get. Another 30 games into the season and the team may have a better handle on what their next move should be. It will be interesting to watch what happens if they deem Klefbom unworthy of the role.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.




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