This upcoming trade deadline is an important one for the New York Rangers. They are a full season into their rebuild at this point, and there is still much to be done. The organization seems dead set on acquiring defensemen, and Oscar Klefbom should be on their radar.
This trade deadline may be one of the most important in New York Rangers history. While that may seem like hyperbole, the fact of the matter is that many teams never get this opportunity during a rebuild. The Rangers have a group of veteran talent who are on expiring contracts.
The Rangers have both in Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, respectively. Zuccarello is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he’s having yet another strong year and has been very impressive lately. Hayes, one of the Rangers top centers, was expecting a large payday this past offseason, but instead got just a one year deal. Both are expected to be moved for a haul of picks and players.
In the early stages of trade deadline season, the Rangers showed that they are still dedicated to acquiring young defensemen. On February 18th, the team shipped top line AHLer Peter Holland to Chicago for Darren Raddysh. The 22-year old righty has played in 54 AHL games this year, posting 26 points in the process.
Seeing as the Rangers are still focused on adding young, cheap defense to the organization, general manager Jeff Gorton should be kicking tires on Edmonton defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom has a ton of attributes that the Rangers are looking for to help continue their rebuild.
For starters, Klefbom is only 25 years old. He was a first round draft pick of the Oilers in 2011. He signed his entry-level contract at only 19. However, he’s been playing at the professional level for six seasons.
Klefbom came to North America in 2013, and split the year between Edmonton and the organization’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. Since then, he has been a mainstay on the Canadian team’s blueline. He has missed considerable time due to injury, most notably the 52 games he missed in the 2015-2016 season.
He recently signed a fantastic contract with the Oilers. Klefbom has four seasons remaining, following this one, at only $4.167 M per season.
Oscar Klefbom checks all the boxes of a top four NHL defenseman. He’s got the size, the skating ability, and the stick work. He clocks in at six feet three inches tall and at 216 lbs, is the perfect size for an NHL defenseman.
But Klefbom isn’t just a big body on the ice. He can skate with the best of them, utilizing that big frame to open up his stride which allows him to get up and down the ice with ease. He uses his long stick to great success; one of his best attributes is his gap control.
That being said there is still some to be desired in his game. Even though he is exceptional at being in position and having the angle on forwards, Klefbom still gets beat far too often. It could easily be chocked up to playing injured, which he has done, average hockey IQ, or scheme. Luckily, he is a young man and has been improving this season.
Offensively, Klefbom has been a consistent producer at the NHL level. His most productive season saw him play in all 82 games, score 12 goals, and help out on another 26 lamp lighters. This season he has three goals and 14 assists through only 37 games.
Could it Even Happen
Now here’s the biggest question mark for the Rangers. Klefbom is a young top four defenseman on a more than team friendly contract on a team that is devoid of defensive talent. With that considered, the Rangers would have to make a huge offer to the Oilers in the hopes of even getting a consideration.
It would likely cost Gorton a top roster player with some level of team control, say Brady Skjei, Chris Kreider, a top prospect and or a multitude of high draft picks. Considering that the Oilers don’t have a full-time general manager right now, the chances of a blockbuster coming is extremely slim. However, if the Oilers’ next general manager wants to construct the roster with “his” type of players, the Rangers should be all in on Klefbom.
While I love Klefbom’s current skill and potential future, I hope the Rangers steer clear of a steep price, as it would likely derail any rebuilding that’s been done.