ROSTER REBOOT: Oscar Klefbom
The Swedish defenceman missed 20 games with a hand injury in 2018-19 but remains poised for another impactful season as a key contributor on the Oilers bluelineby Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com
EdmontonOilers.com is checking in with Oilers players and prospects in our Roster Reboot series as they discuss their summer activities and gear up for the 2019-20 season.
EDMONTON, AB - If April showers bring May flowers in Sweden, Oscar Klefbom wasn't going to stick around the rainy part.
The defenceman returned to his hometown of Karlstad, Sweden in mid-April after the conclusion of the 2018-19 NHL season - his seventh in an Oilers uniform - only to find the weather cold, damp, and less than favourable.
Klefbom quickly rectified the situation by booking a flight to the sandy shores of Spain with his girlfriend and former Farjestads BK teammate Jonas Brodin, who patrols the blueline in the NHL for the Minnesota Wild.
Video: AUDIO | Oscar Klefbom Interview 08.14.19
"We booked a flight real quick to Spain just to relax, chill, and just get some sun because the weather back home was really bad," Klefbom, speaking with EdmontonOilers.com from Sweden, said. "We took a week there and came home and the weather started to get better."
Conditions slowly improved back in Karlstad as the calendar rolled into the summer months, allowing the self-professed angler to spend more time on the lake fishing at the family cottage.
"It's a really small city so there's not really a lot to do, especially in the spring," he said. "But I fish a lot, so I spend a lot of time on the waters with some friends of mine when they finished work. Obviously the weekends we take off to my family's cottage up north and spend a lot of time on the water thinking about everything else except hockey."
Klefbom was once again a key contributor for the Oilers last season on the first power-play unit and on the first defensive pairing with regular partner Adam Larsson, but was forced out of the lineup for 20 games from December 13 to February 3 due to a hand injury that limited the Swede's contributions for the second-straight season.
The 26-year-old was on pace to eclipse his career high of 38 points from 2016-17 before his injury, finishing the year with five goals and 23 assists in 61 games including 11 helpers with the man advantage.
"Obviously you want to see what's going on in the playoffs and all that, but it's a long season," Klefbom said. "If you had a tough season like I did with broken fingers and some injuries, you just want to take some time off completely and think about something else for a while."
During next season or the years to come, Klefbom believes the influx of defensive talent in the organization will help bolster the blueline and help limit the impact on injuries after a number of prospect defencemen like Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Dmitri Samorukov and Evan Bouchard put together strong seasons in major junior and the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors last campaign.
"We have a lot of potential in the organization, and especially on the back end. I think there's a bunch of guys who will get a chance in the NHL and do a good job," he said.
"I think that's a perfect example, William Lagesson, who took a big step in Sweden his last year before coming over, and the way he played in Bakersfield is very impressive. I think he's going to get a chance to play in the big leagues this year for sure, and I think he's going to do a great job."
The small city of Karlstad hosts a number of NHL regulars that train together and keep each other accountable in the off-season, including Marcus Johansson, Joel Eriksson Ek, Rasmus Asplund, Jacob De La Rose, and the aforementioned Brodin.
Video: DAL@EDM: Klefbom pots Draisaitl's pass for OT winner
"If you're by yourself, you really need to have a lot of discipline. So I'm happy I'm with those guys in the gym and on the ice to make it more of a competition to push each other," Klefbom said.
Klefbom has also been given the opportunity to get an up-close evaluation of new Oilers forward Joakim Nygard, the rearguard's former Farjestad teammate, who's skating with the group and preparing for his first foray into North America this upcoming season.
"He's working out with us and he's on the ice with us. He looks really good on the ice," Klefbom said. "He's going to be very fun to see and I'm interested to see how he handles the smaller ice, the speed, and the competition part of it because it's very different.
"I just remember when I came over and I played at that time in Edmonton and Oklahoma City. It's a big adjustment, but it's going to be very interesting to see how he handles that because I think he's one of those players who we really need in the team right now. He brings a lot of speed and he's crazy explosive."
Klefbom plans to make the same early-September return to Edmonton for the new season that he's made for the entirety of his NHL career to adapt to the time change and better position himself for a strong Oilers Training Camp in the weeks leading up to October.
"I've been over there for about eight years now, so I know what to do to prepare myself for the upcoming start in Edmonton."