The Edmonton Oilers may have to start the season without Oscar Klefbom in the lineup, and in fact the latest update on the health of the Oilers' defenseman suggests it could be even worse than that.
On Sunday evening TSN's Jason Gregor, citing "a few sources", indicated that he does not believe Klefbom will be available when the Oilers start the upcoming National Hockey League season in October. In fact Gregor would go so far as to appear to cast doubt on Klefbom's overall future in the league, a rather grim update for the 27 year old defenseman.
"Speaking with a few sources, I sense odds of Oscar Klefbom starting the season are quite low," Gregor wrote on Sunday. "Surgery went well in regards to being able to do normal every day things (like pick up kids, he said), but being able to play in NHL without doing more damage seems low."
Klefbom currently carries a cap hit of $4.167 million and is under contract with the Oilers through the 2022 - 2023 NHL season, however he has recently spent more time on long term injured reserve where his cap hit has been buried by the organization. You have to wonder if Klefbom is once again unable to go for the Oilers this season if he is likely to play out the remaining years of his contract on LTIR.
Klefbom most recently appeared in 62 games for the Oilers during the 2019 - 2020 regular season, picking up 5 goals and 29 assists for 34 points over that stretch, but we are now a full season removed from that performance. There were already legitimate questions about the kind of condition Klefbom would be in when he returned from over a year off, and those questions will only grow more numerous now if he does indeed remain out of the lineup this upcoming season.
The hope is of course that Klefbom will eventually be able to make his way back from his injuries, but I do hope that he makes his long term health his top priority given the severity of those injuries. If you're looking for a silver lining here as a fan of the Oilers, $4.167 million in cap space is a very valuable asset in this current flat cap era of the NHL. One that general manager Ken Holland will no doubt put to full use in the offseason if he believes Klefbom will not return.