On Saturday, September 19th, 2015, the Edmonton Oilers re-signed Oscar Klefbom to a seven-year contract. The deal, worth $29 Million with an annual average value (AAV) of $4.176 Million, ensures Klefbom’s presence on the Oilers blue-line until the 2022-23 season.
However, mere hours after the signing was announced, negativity quickly began to pour in regarding the deal, with the overwhelming opinion being that Klefbom is highly un-proven, having played just 77 career NHL games, and as a result is undeserving of such a lucrative contract.
Yet, in those 77 career games, Klefbom has been incredibly impressive, scoring 23 points while providing reliable and consistent defense, a trait in high demand within the Oilers’ organization. In doing so, Klefbom has become one of the Oilers’ most prominent defenders, and is quite easily worth his new deal. Here’s why…
Klefbom is Worth the Cash
Drafted 19th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Klefbom has thus far enjoyed a steady development in his career. Despite an injured shoulder which has forced him to miss time over the past two seasons, Klefbom’s game has progressed well since his arrival in North America.
Following three seasons with Farjestads BK Karlstad of the Swedish Elite League, Klefbom appeared in 48 games with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League in 2013-14, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate at the time. In those games, Klefbom recorded 10 points, earning an late-season NHL call-up to the Oilers, in which he played 17 games.
However, it was just this past season, 2014-15, in which Klefbom began to establish himself as not only the Oiler’s most promising young defender, but also as one of the team’s top players. Over 60 games, Klefbom displayed his offensive prowess, scoring 20 points, while regularly logging over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
Over-Paid? No Way!
Although, as we have seen, Klefbom has only played in 77 career NHL games, in no way is he over-paid at $4.1 Million per season.
In fact, in looking around the NHL, there are two contracts in particular which are fairly similar to Klefbom’s, and they are both owned by young players of similar skill and capabilities.
The first of which belongs to Jonas Brodin, a 22 year-old defenseman with the Minnesota Wild. In October of 2014, Brodin, having played in just over 100 career NHL games, signed a six-year deal with an AAV of $4.1 Million dollars. Also drafted in 2011, Brodin plays significant minutes every night and has become a regular offensive contributor, and as a result is regarded as one of the Wild’s top young players.
Secondly, there is Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils. Also 22 years old, Larsson inked an incredibly similar, six-year contract extension with an AAV of $4.1 Million in July of 2015. At the time of signing, Larsson had played nearly 200 career games and was a fourth overall selection in, you guessed it, the 2011 NHL Draft. Although Larsson’s development has been slow, he, like Brodin, is steadily becoming a quality NHL defenseman, especially so after recording new career highs across the board in 2014-15
So, was Klefbom overpaid by the Oilers?
Quite obviously, only time will tell. Yet, alongside an elite core of young players, Klefbom resides in an environment geared for development, meaning he will have all the tools available at his disposal to reach his great potential.
However, based on his NHL play to date and his raw talent, it appears as though Klefbom’s contract could become a true steal for the Oilers down the road. Projected to become a top pairing defender in Edmonton, Klefbom will provide the Oilers with immediate stability as well as a definitive direction defensively, an aspect which will prove incredibly important given the Oilers’ defensive ineptitude in recent history.
Brett Slawson is a four-year veteran of The Hockey Writers who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL prospects, and the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Contact Brett on Twitter @brettslawson92, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.