EDMONTON, AB - It's the latest 'Klef-bomb' to drop, but just not the one you'd hope.
The news delivered Tuesday morning of Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom having to miss the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury leaves a large crater on the blueline for the club to fill.
"Klef's been dealing with this for a little bit, and it finally got to the point where we wanted to have a look at it," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "He's had a little procedure done and is going to be out two weeks for sure, maybe a bit more, but it's certainly a big hole."
In all 59 games for the Oilers this season, Klefbom has posted five goals and 28 assists while averaging 25:36 of ice time for fifth in the NHL. The Swede played 30:57 and recorded an assist in Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes - his second-highest total ice time this campaign after posting 31:38 back on November 19 against San Jose.
"He doesn't just defend with his stick, he defends with his whole body," Leon Draisaitl said. "Obviously it's exhausting playing that many minutes every night, but he's a little bit of a freak of nature. He does a lot. He runs our power play, plays big minutes, plays against other teams' top lines, so we're going to miss him a lot."
Video: OILERS TODAY | Resilient & Ready 02.18.20
But still, in the Oilers dressing room, the 26-year-old's influence around the League as a leading d-man still isn't properly recognized.
"Not even close, I think," Adam Larsson said. "For me, he's one of the top guys in the League. I think especially this year, he's brought a lot more consistency to his game and he's taking charge out there. I think this year is as good as I've seen him. He's battling through injuries and now he'll get some time to rest. He's going to be a big part of this team going down the stretch."
Klefbom's absence is the latest regular Oilers contributor sidelined on a list that includes Connor McDavid, James Neal, Kris Russell and Joakim Nygard, along with a seven-game suspension to Zack Kassian.
"It's obviously a big challenge, especially with our guys," Draisaitl said. "They're all key guys and all big contributors to our success, so it's obviously tough that guys are missing right now. I think every team goes through that. Some teams might have it at the start of the year. It's obviously bad timing for us right now, but we have to find ways to win hockey games and battle through it."
In his morning avail from the Oilers Hall of Fame Room, Tippett provided further updates on the recovery of Russell, Neal and McDavid as all three continue rehabbing respective injuries.
Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 02.18.20
"Russell's not ready to go. He skated earlier this morning, but he's not any time in the near term here," Tippett said. "Neal's had a couple of setbacks and is a couple of weeks away. So he's not on the ice yet. Hopefully this week we get him on the ice, but we'll see how that goes.
"I know (McDavid's) coming back today. That's about all I know right now, so we'll get him back here and see where he's at."
With another defenceman down, the bench boss alluded to another potential call-up from the Bakersfield Condors to join the already long list of players on the Oilers roster who've spent time in the AHL this season.
"They're starting to pile up a little bit," Tippett said of injuries. "I feel sorry for Bakersfield, that's who I feel sorry for. We have six of their players up here, so (Keith) Gretzky and (Jay) Woodcroft are I'm sure scratching down there.
"I'm going to talk to Ken this afternoon. We're probably going to call a defenceman."