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Klefbom to undergo season-ending surgery

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Oilers prospect Oscar Klefbom was considered to be Farjestad's best defenceman (Photo courtesy: Farjestad BK)
EDMONTON - In consultation with the club's medical staff, Oilers prospect Oscar Klefbom is about to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

The 6'3", 201-pound defenceman crashed innocently into the boards back on Oct. 9 as Farjestad took on Vaxjo. On the bus ride back home to Karlstad, he experienced bleeding in the surrounding muscle and required the use of a sling. After seeing little improvement over the past six weeks, the Oilers brought the 19th overall pick in 2011 to Edmonton over the weekend, allowing their own doctors to make a recommendation.

"He had a chance to see our doctors, we had a good assessment and how we can have a plan going forward with him," said Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini in an exclusive. "If there's a point in the year where this is going to happen, I guess it's better (to happen) now because we know that he's going to have time to prepare and be ready when it counts next season."

The 19-year-old met with Oilers Head Athletic Therapist T.D. Forss Monday -- making the rounds at various locations on an extremely busy day with little promise of good news, it was determined that surgery was his best option.

In 10 games this season, Klefbom led the Elitserien with a +7 rating, had already set a new career-high in points with three assists, and was quickly emerging as Farjestad's best and most dependable defenceman in all situations.

Farjestad head coach Leif Carlsson not only agreed with that assessment early in the season, but added: "[Oscar can] be one of the best players in Farjestad, Edmonton, on the Swedish National Team or wherever else he wants to play."

"In the Swedish Elite League at times, it's difficult to gain the stature and confidence from their coaches to gain the ice time that's needed," Tambellini said. "That's what we were worried about last year. But as the year progressed, especially after the World Juniors that he had, he gained more and more important ice time."

Klefbom was, indeed, a star at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary. He posted a goal, two points and a tournament-best +8 rating. He was also named as a First Team All-Star, all the while winning a gold medal that snapped a 31-year drought in Sweden. When he returned home, his ice time increased -- and by the time 2012-13 rolled around, he was counted upon to lead the defence. It showed, regularly playing upwards of 20 and sometimes even 25 minutes a night with Farjestad.

"That speaks volumes (about) his progression," Tambellini said, noting Carlsson's early-season comment about having '100 percent confidence' in the young rearguard. "It's a mature league and they play a heavy brand of hockey. It shows that he's progressing as we thought he would.

"Oscar has a tremendous attitude with the way he approaches games, and big games in particular. He has that personality where he enjoys it, he's not afraid of it. He's not going to be a so-called slick offensive player -- he's going to be a two-way, meat-and-potatoes guy that can make a good first pass out of his own zone. We look at him as being a player that can eventually provide quality minutes from a defensive perspective. It'll be interesting to see."

Heading into 2013-14, Tambellini doesn't question his defenceman's ability to bounce back and return to form. In fact, he expects his progression to continue as it has without any interruption. It's especially important, considering Klefbom will be debuting in North America next season.

Likely in the Oilers' opening-night lineup.

"Once we get the total game plan from the surgery to rehab and the on-ice program, we'll see," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind that he can't come back even stronger than what he is now."

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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