The Oilers announced Sunday morning that they inked defenceman Oscar Klefbom to a seven-year contract extension. Klefbom, 22, has played just 77 NHL games since being taken 19th overall in 2011.
Klefbom has shown poise in his brief NHL experience and his promise as one of the Oilers best, young defenders made him a player the organization wanted to lock up long term.
“He’s a big, strong kid. He skates well, he moves the puck well, he defends well,” said Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli. “I saw him play in the Worlds and at that high level, he’s a very good player. I know he’s only had 70-something games in the NHL but there’s a lot to like about him, on both sides of the puck.”
Chiarelli also said the team believes Klefbom can develop into a top-two defenceman.
“He’s a top-four D and he’s going to be a top-two D at some point,” said Chiarelli. “He plays a real responsible game and he moves the puck. We project on him but we’re fairly confident on it.”
Klefbom was all smiles when he addressed the media, happy to have the contract and happy to be an Oiler for a long time.
2. REINHART AHEAD?
It’s far too early to really judge who is ahead in the defensive battles at camp. The players will begin to separate themselves more after they actually get into some games. However, Griffin Reinhart has been getting a good look from the Oilers with Eric Gryba as his partner.
Chiarelli seems to be a fan of the 21-year-old blueliner here early in camp.
“I think he’s getting better every day,” said Chiarelli. “He’s a very smart, heady player. He moves the puck very well. His testing has been good so I like what I’ve seen so far.”
3. McDAVID CONTINUES TO SHINE
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any reader. Connor McDavid was expected to come in and flash the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2015 Draft. I think the surprising (or maybe not so surprising) thing has been just how quick he’s developed chemistry with his linemates, particularly Taylor Hall.
Hall and McDavid did skate together over the summer, but they seem to be on the same page a lot in practice. In the scrimmages, McDavid has made good plays and Hall has been there to finish them. That was the case on Saturday.
On Sunday, it was McDavid who was potting goals as the Blue team and White team faced off. McDavid unofficially had two goals and an assist, and likely could have had more helpers if not for a few missed opportunities.
“He makes a lot of plays,” said Chiarelli. “His play without the puck has been good. I’ve been very happy with him and that line looks very good, including Ted on the other wing. He makes good plays. He’s fast and he’s had some back-checking and he’s been good with that. Every time he has the puck he makes a good play.”
The Oilers centre left practice on Saturday after taking a puck to the face and did not play in the scrimmage. On Sunday, Nugent-Hopkins was back and participated fully. He even scored on his first shift.
5. HENDRICKS PLAYING WELL
It’s a little under the radar, but Matt Hendricks looks like he’s having a nice camp. A pair of goals in two scrimmages isn’t the only thing he’s done. Hendricks has played about as physical as he can in battles against his own teammates and, overall, looks quick for a guy who turned 34 this summer.
It will be interesting to see, with the lineup here at camp, if Hendricks can be an anchor on a shutdown line with three scoring trios at the top of the depth chart. He’s having a good camp and is already a veteran leader for the Oilers.