On each weekday between now and the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on June 24, we'll be profiling one of 11 players who could be chosen with the 12th overall pick by Carolina. Today's subject is Swedish defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Previously: Sven Bartschi | Nathan Beaulieu | Jonas Brodin | Sean Couturier Also see: Hurricanes Draft History.
Once pegged to go lower in the draft, Oscar Klefbom’s strong finish has him firmly in the mix for a spot among the draft’s top 15 players.
The Swedish defenseman rocketed through the rankings at the end of the season, with the International Scouting Service most recently placing him at No. 10 overall – a rise of 36 spots from two months earlier. An impressive performance at April’s World Under-18 Championship was a big reason for that, as Klefbom captained his country to a silver-medal finish.
“Over the course of the season there were games when he was pretty good but there were games that left you wanting more,” said Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald. “He did a lot to alleviate those concerns at the under-18 tournament. He had a tremendous performance, and that did a lot to boost his stock.”
Size has never been a concern for Klefbom, who at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, tested very well at the combine and could be physically ready for the NHL quite soon. He held his own playing against men in the Swedish Elite League, but unlike Farjestad teammate Jonas Brodin, profiled earlier here
, he split the season between the elite level and lower divisions as he continued to refine his game.
“It’s a very good league and it’s tough for young players to come in and get regular ice,” said MacDonald. “He was given a chance to play, but he’s still learning.”
In addition to his physical attributes and better-than-expected mobility, the Hurricanes are high on the leadership intangibles that Klefbom displayed internationally.
“He shows character in how the Swedish federation views him in naming him captain of their under-18 team,” said Jason Karmanos, the Hurricanes’ vice president and assistant general manager.
“He’s a captain that took his role very seriously,” said MacDonald.
Over the course of the season, Klefbom steadily gained a reputation as a tough player for opposing forwards to go up against, reinforcing his profile as a defense-first blue liner. However, even though he scored just 2 points during his 23-game stint with Farjestad, the Hurricanes believe there may me more to his overall game than others give him credit for.
“I would think this is a player that would project more as an all-around defenseman not necessarily classified as offensive or defensive,” said Karmanos.
As is the case with Brodin, whose skills didn’t translate to points while playing against veteran players, where teams fall on Klefbom’s offensive projections will factor heavily into his eventual draft placement. That being said, it should be noted that an eventual lack of offensive production still wouldn’t make him a bad pick.
“Worst-case scenario, he’s a big, strong guy who can play against the other team’s top players,” said MacDonald. “He’s a big, strong man - the kind that every team covets.
“When he achieves his potential, he should be a big, solid, two-way defenseman who can play in your top four for a lot of years.”