As first reported yesterday pregame by 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer and Jack Michaels, Oscar Klefbom’s season is now over. The Swedish defender played in yesterday’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, and will now return to Edmonton to undergo shoulder surgery. Klefbom was at no risk to do further damage this past week, and is expected to be 100% for off-season training and camp next September.
I, like many, was surprised to see Klefbom play games this weekend when it was announced he would need a procedure that would end his season. With the club’s playoff hopes long dead, it seemed foolish for Klefbom to play. That said, with no further damage possible, Klefbom wanted to help his teammates and I respect the hell out of that. It’s that kind of battle and commitment that this team needs moving forward.
Klefbom actually played quite well, too. I thought his best offensive game of the season came last Wednesday in the overtime loss to San Jose, and he looked fine in Florida over the weekend. For really the first time all year, he didn’t look bothered by his shoulder issue. I thought it was a nice way for him to end his season, even if the club did go 1-1-1.
The Perks Of Surgery:
The word from the Oilers is that Klefbom will make a fully recovery and will be ready to go for camp come September. While this procedure will ensure he won’t play at the upcoming World Championships this spring, it does allow him the summer to get his mind and body right, to train and to be ready to go at 100% for next season.
If the Oilers are going to turn things around, and many believe they will, then a healthy Klefbom is key. Last season, Oscar was Edmonton’s top offensive defender and was arguably the club’s best blueliner period. This season has been a much different story.
Klefbom has been a liability most nights and simply has not looked like himself. He’s looked tentative on the ice all season long, and hasn’t been willing to engage physically as much. His offensive game has taken a hit too, as he really hasn’t been willing to use his shot enough and his passes seem to be lacking both the pop and accuracy they had a year ago.
Getting Klefbom fully healthy for next year and in the right frame of mind will cross one thing off the list for the Oilers. If he is comfortable and healthy, I fully expect him to return to the top-four defender who can play on the powerplay, move the puck and handle tough minutes with Adam Larsson. That alone makes Edmonton a much better hockey club, and in turn will make Cam Talbot’s job in net much easier.
The Oilers need the good Oscar back next season. Getting him healthy has to be priority one right now. It’s too bad Klefbom’s season has to come to an early end, but he hasn’t been right since opening day. It’s short term pain for Klefbom (quite literally) and the Oilers, but the hope is it will result in long term gain.
For my money, this is the right call by both the club and the player. Now, let’s see a healthy Oscar in September as an Oiler, shall we?