The Oilers recalled former 19th overall draft choice Oscar Klefbom this afternoon. While he is not expected to make it to Edmonton in time for tonight's game against San Jose, he is slated to appear in his NHL debut soon.
The man who has coached the 20-year-old defenceman through his first 12 North American professional hockey games in the American Hockey League, Todd Nelson said today in a phone interview that what sticks out the most about the blueliner is his strength in the corners.
"I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is how strong he is in the corners," said Nelson. "He's a big body who plays physical in the corners. He wins his puck battles. For him, that's his game. Just play solid defensively."
A big, strong defenceman who can play a heavy game is something the Oilers desire and lack right now. General Manager Craig MacTavish told the media yesterday that he is on the lookout for just that type of player. Could Klefbom come in and fit that bill?
"I think that remains to be seen," said Nelson. "Some players go up top and fit in right away versus in minor league play. That remains to be seen. I think we're all excited to see how he handles it to go up there and play the game on the National Hockey League level. We don't know how he'll do, but everybody is really excited to find out."
Klefbom is still very young. It will take time for him to develop into a stud defenceman for the Oilers, but the raw talent and potential is there.
"There's still some things that he has to work on. One of the things he has to work on is not being so 'puck focused' away from the puck in the defensive zone and he drifts up ice a bit and lets guys get behind him. Those are some of the things, but other than that he works extremely hard to get better and better and I'm really excited for him."
Klefbom has played 12 games for the Oklahoma City Barons this season and has one assist and two penalty minutes for the Oilers' affiliate.