It has been known for a while that Edmonton will be without Oscar Klefbom when the puck drops on the 2020-21 season but the thought had been that he’d be able to return at some point. That may not be the case, however. GM Ken Holland told Postmedia’s Jim Matheson that the current assumption is that the defenseman will not be able to play at all next year:
I’m planning for 2020-21 that Oscar is not playing and anything other than that will be a surprise. A pleasant surprise.
Klefbom is currently rehabbing a lingering shoulder issue that some anticipate will eventually require surgery although clearly, the hope is to avoid it altogether considering how much time has passed. He has gone under the knife multiple times before so they’re hoping a different approach will provide a better result this time around. His anticipated absence created a hole that was filled by Tyson Barrie but while he will certainly be able to cover Klefbom’s offensive contributions (34 points in 62 games last season), he won’t be as reliable on the defensive side of the puck. Although there could be some cap room added by placing Klefbom on LTIR, Holland indicated that he’s not doing that yet nor does he plan to add another defender.
Instead, the Oilers will count on youngsters like Ethan Bear (still a restricted free agent), Evan Bouchard, and the recently re-signed William Lagesson to step up into bigger roles next season. One prospect that won’t be in the mix at the start will be Philip Broberg as Holland stated that he will remain with SHL Skelleftea until their season comes to an end. At that point, he’ll then return to North America where the NHL and AHL campaigns will still be ongoing.
Missing Klefbom for a significant portion of next season was already a big blow for Edmonton but Holland’s belief that the 27-year-old will miss the whole year certainly hurts. But for now, they’ll go with that they’ve got instead of dipping back into free agency to add another veteran.