When Oscar Klefbom first took to the ice for the Oilers, the 20-year-old defenceman was a bit star struck with some of the players he was facing in battle. The pressure to perform against the NHL’s stars may have been a daunting task early, but the former 19th overall pick in 2011 says after a few games, he’s confident he can keep up.
“The players are so smart up here,” Klefbom said. “It’s a big difference from the American Hockey League to play against guys down there and then you play against players like Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Shea Weber and stuff so it’s a big adjustment. But I found it, the first couple of games I was scared because, like I said, you play against so good players so you’re almost afraid of yourself that you’re not going to be enough. But after a couple of games, you feel more confident on the ice and you have to believe in yourself and have yourself play pretty good too so you can keep up with those players.”
Klefbom has now played eight games for Edmonton and, almost as quickly as they came, the nerves are gone.
“The first couple of games is always nerves and stuff. In the first four or five games, I just tried to play simple and play good defence and just take one step at a time and after a couple of games you feel more confident. Right now, it feels like I can do something good with the puck and can follow up in some rushes as well.”
It’s been quite the journey for one of the Oilers top defensive prospects. On his path to the NHL, Klefbom has struggled with injury issues and took time to adjust to the North American game this season. But in Oklahoma City, he was playing his best hockey after Christmas and after earning his first NHL duty, he continues to show signs of growth and comfortability at this level.
“It’s been a lot of emotions of course. This is what you work hard for everyday as a hockey player so I’m very glad to be here.”