Geek of the Week: Bubble Keeper Oscar Klefbom

by Scott Maran on July 22, 2018


In case you haven't heard, today kicks off Bubble Keeper Week at DobberHockey, where we dedicate time to the players who are fighting for a continued spot on your roster. Here in the latest edition of Geek of the Week, I’ll be taking a look at Oscar Klefbom and why he may be worth a spot as a keeper.

Drafted 19th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2011, Klefbom showed offensive promise in the early stages of his career. His first season in North America wasn't spectacular (with only 10 points in 48 AHL games) but he adjusted quickly. In the following year Klefbom scored eight points in his first nine AHL games and was quickly promoted to the big leagues, where he averaged over 20 minutes a night through 60 games. His 20 points with the Oilers put him on pace for 27 points over a full season, solid production for a rookie defenseman’s first year. Soon after, Klefbom would sign a brand new seven-year contract, showing the Oilers’ commitment to the young defender.

He would be injured in the following season but next year saw him tally 38 points in his first full season. Out of all NHL defensemen, Klefbom was tied for the 32nd most points in the league and 17th most power-play points. At only 23 years old, it looked like the sky was the limit for Klefbom, with poolies were expecting a bigger breakout in what would only be his second full season.

However, we did not see the breakout we hoped for from Klefbom, as it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong for the Swedish defender. Injuries, inconsistency, and a huge drop in team performance all contributed to what might have been Klefbom's worst season to date. According to our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, Klefbom only provided the 174th most value out of all NHL skaters (using an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots, power-play points, and hits). When you’re tied with Kyle Okposo and Zdeno Chara, you’re not exactly looking like keeper material.
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Kyle Okposo

173

-5

76

15

28

161

20

70

Oscar Klefbom

174

-5

66

5

16

203

6

49

Zdeno Chara

175

-5

71

7

16

143

0

134

 

After some of the most points by a defender just last year, Klefbom wasn’t even on pace to break 30 points in a full season. His .32 points-per-game rate was tied for the 84th highest out of all defenders, the same as Brent Seabrook and Andrew MacDonald. He has never contributed much in hits and barely takes any penalty. For a power play quarterback, last year was rough. His six power play points were tied for the 66th most by a defender, with Anthony DeAngelo and Mike Reilly. The only glimmer of hope from last season were his shot rates, as his 203 shots were the 17th most by a defender (and that’s with missing over 15 games).

So what makes Klefbom likely to skyrocket into fantasy-keeper territory? There’s plenty of reason to believe that Klefbom will bounce back to have a much stronger 2018-19 season and show that last year was merely a fluke. Klefbom was extremely unlucky last year, both with his persistent injury problems likely hampering his play and his unfortunate shooting percentage. After averaging a 5.3 shooting percentage through his first four seasons, Klefbom only converted on 2.5% of his shots. If he were to shoot only his career average, Klefbom would have ended last between with five or six more goals.

Along with that, it only helps that the Oilers didn’t make any changes to their defensive group. With everyone else returning from the previous year, we can continue to expect Klefbom to get prime offensive opportunities with the club. In addition to averaging the most ice time per game by any Edmonton skater, Klefbom also averaged the third-most power-play time on the team. Klefbom has shown that he can produce in a similar situation, so it wouldn’t take much to see Klefbom get back to 35+ points, especially if he’ll continue to play in the same role. If anything, there’s a good chance of Klefbom setting a new career high in points. Besides growing as a player and continuing to get better, Klefbom has continuously been shooting the puck more, which can give him a higher ceiling for the amount of goals he can score. That and, in leagues that count shots on goal, the more shots the better.

And while it may not be a factor in some leagues, in fantasy formats that take into account salary, Klefbom’s cap hit will be a huge asset. His cap hit of only $4.167 million for the next five years is very cheap for a player of his caliber. Contracts for young defensemen are only going up, so it’s nice to see Klefbom locked in long-term for a relatively low amount.

Overall, don’t be scared off by Klefbom’s down season last year. He should be more than ready to bounce back and once again provide tremendous fantasy value. Jump on him while you can before everyone else catches on.