The Oilers announced that Oscar Klefbom will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. I don’t know if this is the same shoulder that he has had problems with in the past or not. Either way, this is a big loss for the Oilers.
Klefbom is the best defenceman that the Oilers have. He is 5th in the entire league in ice time per game this season, and he leads the league in blocked shots. He is very reliable in his own end, and he moves the puck well. He already has 33 points in 59 games this year.
Klefbom also missed significant time with an injury last season. The Oilers went 6-12-3 in that time. That says a lot about how important Klefbom is to the Oilers.
We have to remember that there were other injuries at that time as well. Kris Russell was hurt in the same game that Klefbom got hurt in last season. The Oilers went 2-7-1 without both Klefbom and Russell while they were hurt.
Russell is also currently out… Shit.
Last year was a different situation than this year though. Last year, Andrej Sekera was still out with his Achilles injury. Three of the top 6 defencemen were out at the same time. Caleb Jones got a call up to fill in, and he was forced to play heavy minutes that he ultimately wasn’t ready to handle. There was also the misguided acquisitions of Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning, who proved to be of no help to the Oilers while they dealt with the injuries to Klefbom and Russell.
This year, the defence is in a better place because of Ethan Bear’s emergence. With Bear, Adam Larsson, and Matt Benning, the right side is totally fine. The left side is the side to be a little worried about.
I’m not worried about Darnell Nurse having to step up and be the top LD for this time. He was just fine in that role last season while Klefbom was out. It’s the other two LD spots that are a little concerning.
Caleb Jones will likely be re-united with Larsson, whom he played with last season while Klefbom and Russell were out. He was in over his head on a 2nd pairing last season. This season, he has been with the team for a while now playing on the 3rd pairing. He’s not been perfect, but he’s been alright. We’re going to see just how much he has improved from last season while Klefbom is out.
I would anticipate that William Lagesson will end up being the guy that fills in at 3LD here. Apparently, Ken Holland watched Lagesson and Benning together on a pairing while Benning was in Bakersfield on a conditioning stint, and he liked how they worked together as a pairing. I would bet on that being the 3rd pairing. Lagesson has only been in a few games, and I honestly didn’t really notice him in any of those games. That’s all the Oilers will really need from him right now.
The Oilers needed another injury right now like I need another hole in my head. They are already without Connor McDavid, which is enough of a blow. They are also missing James Neal and Joakim Nygard due to injury. Zack Kassian still has 5 more games to serve for his suspension. Russell has been out for a little while now, and now Klefbom is out.
When it rains, it pours.
The Oilers are in a much better position to handle the injuries this season though. The depth on defence is superior to what existed last season, and the pieces that were there last season have improved. The goaltending has been much better than it was last season. Oh yeah, and they still have the leading scorer in the NHL driving one of the hottest lines in the league right now! They’ve also been getting consistent production out of Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan recently.
These injuries are awful, but I don’t think they will destroy the Oilers’ season this time around.