Oscar Klefbom could undergo surgery that could cause him to miss all next season, and the Edmonton Oilers are trying to figure out what they would do without their No.1 defenseman.
Klefbom missed nine games with a shoulder injury against the Carolina Hurricanes on February 16. He returned on March 7 and played three regular season games before the season was interrupted on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
He scored 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 62 regular season games and had two assists in four games in the Oilers’ loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the best of 5 Stanley Cup playoffs.
He missed 21 games in 2018-19 with a broken hand and shoulder problems caused him to miss 16 games in 2017-18. It was closed at the start of the season due to shoulder surgery in March 2018.
Many variables affect Klefbom’s status, and Holland said he hopes to have clarification soon.
“What we do about it may depend on when [2020-21] The season begins, ”said Holland. If it’s December, that’s not a good thing. If it’s February, it’s three more months. There are a lot of unknowns. ”
Klefbom’s absence for an extended period would be significant for a team looking to take the next step to becoming a Stanley Cup contender.
Klefbom has averaged 25:25 ice time per game this season, tied with Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks is fifth among NHL defensemen. Replacing those minutes would be difficult.
“He means so much to this team, every night he goes out and he has an impact on this game,” Oilers defenseman Nurse Darnell said when Klefbom was injured in February.
Holland said he would need to weigh the immediate help via a trade against organizational depth if Klefbom were to be out for an extended period.
“The reality is that some of it will have to be recovered internally,” Holland said. “There is no hockey store where I can buy such a guy [to replace Klefbom]. It’s not like going to the mall. You are doing your best.
“Sure I’m going to have to kick the tires, but nobody trades defenseman # 1, 2 or 3… I’m not saying no, but if they do, it’s a huge price.
“I have defenders to come. I might be in a position where I need to do something in the short term, but I think it will be fine in the long term. These are all the things I need to consider, including getting more information [on Klefbom]. »
There are young defensemen in the Oilers system who could step in next season. Evan Bouchard, 20, was the 10th pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Edmonton chose Philippe Broberg, 19, ranked 8th in the 2019 NHL Draft. Caleb Jones, 23, has played 60 games in the NHL over the past two seasons and has shown signs that he is ready to take the full-time NHL position. William Lagesson, 24, who has played eight games in the NHL this season, and Dmitry Samorukov, 21, are other possibilities.
“In the short term, it’s a big blow,” Holland said. “In the long term, it’s a good thing that we have Broberg, Bouchard, Lagesson, Samorukov, [Ethan Bear], Caleb Jones and Darnell Nurse. In the long term, some of these people can develop there. In the short term, this could be a big blow. ”