Anytime I get to use a ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ reference you best believe I’m going to do it. I may be 23-years old, but 80’s music is right in my wheelhouse and boy oh boy, does it make for the best puns and headlines. Anyway, back on topic with the Edmonton Oilers.
About a month ago, I wrote a piece here at The Oilers Rig regarding Oscar Klefbom. At the time, in about mid-February, there were rumblings that teams were calling the Oilers and asking about Oscar Klefbom. While the club wasn’t exactly shopping the struggling defender, The Fourth Period suggested that the club was listening.
Here is an excerpt that I quoted in the above piece from the original TFP piece (here):
Reversing the mindset that came into play when the Oilers traded left wing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for sturdy defenceman Adam Larsson on June 29, 2016, TFP has learned the Oilers are willing to move blueliner Oscar Klefbom if it meant acquiring a top-line winger.
Klefbom, though not actively being shopped by the Oilers, has been the topic of some trade discussions lately, according to rival team sources.
Things obviously died down regarding Klefbom in the lead up to the trade deadline. The rumors subsided and no deal ever came to pass. Klefbom still remains with the club and in the every night lineup, although he still clearly isn’t back up to par.
An interesting tidbit of information came available to Oiler fans yesterday from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman. Twitter user @OilersFanInMTL tweeted the following on Tuesday afternoon.
Elliotte Friedman on Klefbom
“pretty clear he’s been playing hurt…he’s been protective of his shoulder..Oilers haven’t shut him down which leads to the belief that #Oilers are showcasing him”
“If you wanna trade somebody that can get you value in Edmonton, Klefs the guy”
— David (@OilersFanInMTL) March 7, 2018
This really comes as no surprise. Klefbom hasn’t looked like himself since opening night and has been one of the biggest disappointments in a nightmare season. After a stellar 2016-17 season, Klefbom has rarely looked like a top-four defender most nights and has been a huge negative for this team.
That said, it’s quite clear Klefbom’s shoulder has been bothering him. He missed time around Christmas to get some rest and has been playing quite passively throughout the year. Anyone suggesting he is even close to 100% is either lying or simply not watching. He’s banged up and it has had a massive impact on his game this season.
This brings us to Klefbom’s perceived value around the NHL. A year ago and as recently as last summer, Klefbom would be a surefire top-four defender on any roster in the NHL. Teams knew that and his value was certainly high when it came to trade talks. Now? His value has without doubt taken a hit.
Now, is Klefbom’s value so low that he wouldn’t return anything? No, in fact sources have indicated that many teams are interested in Klefbom, including the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes. That said, those teams feel like they can buy low on Klefbom right now and would like to take of advantage of the Oilers like the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils have in the last two summers.
Edmonton selling Klefbom at his lowest value as a professional player is something the organization simply cannot afford. Remember, just a year ago many of the people trying to run him out of town now were saying the young Swede was Edmonton’s best defender.
I firmly believe his true ability lies far closer to last year’s output than this year’s, and I know for a fact that many around the league would agree with me.
Right now, Edmonton would be selling a good player on a value contract at his lowest trade value. That’s just bad business if true.
I don’t want to call Elliotte Friedman a liar, he’s arguably the most connected person in the NHL, but the notion Edmonton isn’t shutting Klefbom down because they are showcasing him makes little sense, if any at all. If Klefbom is hurt, why would the club force him to play through injury just to trade him? That question begs answering, especially as Klefbom continues to struggle.
It makes absolutely no sense for team or player to showcase an injured player who is struggling in a big way. If anything, it will just hurt his value as a trade chip moving forward. This is the kind of showcase that would backfire.
I don’t have faith in Peter Chiarelli when it comes to trades of this magnitude at this time. That being said, I find it very hard to believe that Chiarelli is showcasing Klefbom in his current state.
My thoughts? Chiarelli and head coach Todd McLellan are currently in a battle for their jobs in Edmonton, and they both want the best possible lineup out there on a nightly basis to get wins down the stretch. I believe they need to win about nine or ten of their last 16 to survive, and I’m willing to wager they think the same way.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Oscar Klefbom is the most talented defender the Oilers have and trading him after a down season where he was hurt makes little to no sense at all. Unless the Oilers are getting a clear-cut upgrade back for him or a Taylor Hall-level forward, they should keep their powder dry with Oscar.
For those of you suggesting that Klefbom is expendable because of Darnell Nurse, I offer you one thought. Remember how good Klefbom looked last year? Assuming a player will develop in a straight line is a foolish thing to do. It’s possible that Nurse suffers the same kind of struggles next season. The Oilers are a better team with Klefbom AND Nurse in the lineup, that’s just a fact.
So, Mr. Chiarelli, I offer you the same piece of advice I did a month ago when it comes to Klefbom. Relax, don’t do it!