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Should the Oilers Plan to Protect Oscar Klefbom in NHL Expansion Draft?

With his injury history and potential long-term question marks in Edmonton, should the Oilers protect Oscar Klefbom during NHL expansion?

With news that the Edmonton Oilers extended defenseman Kris Russell on a one-year deal Wednesday, talk about why they did so centered around the NHL Expansion Draft. The Oilers needed to expose a defenseman in that draft and with Russell’s new $1.25 million deal, he now qualifies.

Related: Oilers Working on One-Year Kris Russell Extension

There is no guarantee Seattle takes Russell in the draft, but even if they don’t, the Oilers will have a steady depth d-man on the cheap who can play solid minutes for one more season before letting him go, should they choose to. What becomes a more interesting question is who the Oilers plan to protect with Russell now essentially expansion bait?

Early consensus is that this move was about Caleb Jones. The Oilers have high expectations for Jones and don’t want to lose him, thus exposing a player like Russell keeps Jones in house. On paper, it’s a great plan. But, what’s also interesting is the discussion that has popped up since the news about another Oilers defenseman — Oscar Klefbom.

Why Is Klefbom In This Discussion?

Talk is that Klefbom will be on the Oilers list of protected defenders. But, there is debate about whether or not he should be. When healthy, Klefbom is a top-four NHL blueliner. When on his game, he’s a top-two. But, he’s been anything but healthy and he’s pegged to miss a huge chunk of next season with a bum shoulder.

Players who miss an entire season don’t often return as themselves. Thus, there’s a real question about whether or not the Kraken franchise would risk grabbing a player in expansion who may never return to full health. He’d be a great grab in most other scenarios, but to say there might be doubt there is reasonable.

Oscar Klefbom Edmonton Oilers
Oscar Klefbom Edmonton Oilers

Might the Oilers Eventually Want to Cut Ties With Klefbom?

It’s not ideal, but with the hopeful emergence of young, highly-touted prospects on the Oilers blue line and with the signing of Tyson Barrie, where Klefbom stands in the long-term picture for the Oilers is unclear.

So too, with his health in question, some are asking if it’s wise the team bank on him as part of their future. Again, when healthy, he’s a huge part of the Oilers blue line. At the same time, the team appears to be moving towards Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear as the team’s one-two punch.

Next: Could Drake Caggiula Wind Up Back in Edmonton?

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sean

    October 24, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Of course we want to protect Klefbom.

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