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FEATURE: Keep calm and Klefbom

The Oilers defenceman is off to the best start of his seven-year career and currently averages a league-best 25:56 of ice time per game

by Tony Brar / EdmontonOilers.com

LAS VEGAS, NV - Carry on.

It's business as usual for Oscar Klefbom.

Offensively, the defenceman is currently enjoying the best start of his seven-year career. However, Klefbom's 17 points through the first 24 games of the season isn't the most impressive stat for the rearguard himself.

His 25:56 time on ice per game - which leads the National Hockey League - is a semblance of trust and responsibility put on his shoulders from Dave Tippett and the coaching staff here in Edmonton.  

"I'm really happy about the responsibility that I'm getting from being out there on the penalty kill and the powerplay, playing a lot of heavy minutes," said Klefbom following Friday's skate in Las Vegas. "If I'm out there for that many minutes, I've got to manage my minutes and obviously, do something good with it.

"We have a lot of defencemen here that want to play more and show the coaches what they're made of. Right now, I have a lot of that responsibility and I try to do my best with those minutes."

The Oilers first-year bench boss has only been here for 24 regular season games himself. He's made it clear: he's here to win and here to create some stability - both traits exuded by Klefbom on the backend.

"Ultimately, you look at your bench and you look at players you can put into a situation where they can help you win the most," explained Tippett. "When he's on the ice that much, he must be doing some good things.

"That's what we think of him."

By quickly digging into those numbers, you'll quickly learn that Tippett relies on the Swedish blueliner in all situations. Klefbom's name gets called when killing a penalty (3:26 shorthanded minutes per game) and on the man-advantage (3:36 PP TOI/G). And it's the latter that seems to stand out for his head coach.

"We've got a unique power play," explained Tippett. "I've never seen it before where guys can play two minutes. Usually, I'm like, 'you can't play two minutes. You'd be tired.' They can stay out there because they have so much zone time."

The Oilers currently own the league's best power play, operating at a 31.4% clip. They have a second-best 22 goals on the man advantage, with Klefbom directly chipping in on 10 of those markers.

"Leon, Connor, Nuge and Neal are really good on the power play but I want to be out there for a reason and be a threat as well," said Klefbom. "I don't want to just stand on the blueline and you know, 'Klefbom is going to give the puck to Connor.' I want to be a threat as well - that's when we can be the most lethal."

And lethal they've been.

Video: RAW | Oscar Klefbom 11.22.19

Currently, his 16 assists are tied for third-most amongst defencemen in the league. Heading into Thursday's game against the Kings, the 26-year-old compiled six assists in three games prior, including three helpers in a convincing 6-2 win against the Avalanche on Nov. 14th.

While Klefbom has always taken pride in his two-way game, he admits points on the board can "really give a boost."

"It gives you a lot of confidence for sure. You get a good energy boost and I want to continue to have that good feeling. I'm flattered to be up there (among the league leaders in assists by a defenceman).

"It feels like I'm doing something good to be up there with those guys."

The ever-humble Klefbom also kept his fans in mind.

"It's probably more important for all the fans out there that have me in their fantasy leagues than for myself," he laughed.

"Once in a while, I'll get a DM on Instagram saying 'good job, I have you in my fantasy league.' It's a big deal here, so I just have to keep it up for those guys."

When asked about having just six penalty minutes so far this season (a valuable statistic in most fantasy leagues):

"I know -- there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders," he jokingly admitted.

Video: EDM@SJS: Granlund rips Klefbom's feed past Jones

But anyone that watches Klefbom's game closely will be the first to tell you that his game doesn't revolve around offensive numbers. With him, it's about being a stabilizing presence on the Oilers blueline - one that you can count on in all three zones, even if his name doesn't appear on the scoresheet.

"I can be really happy about my game if I haven't scored in a point in many games," said Klefbom. "I think I went eight to ten games without a point and I still felt really good about myself and the way I was playing. We were winning some games and I'm happy with that.

"Overall, I'm feeling really good about my game right now and the whole team, we've been playing some good hockey. Obviously, the last game didn't turn out the way we wanted it to but we just have to stick with it here."

Translation: 'keep calm and Klefbom' as the Oilers visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.

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