Will my forlorn looks of love for large Scandinavians move from goalies to defensemen?
Editor's Note: As part of our series covering some lesser known 2011 prospects and/or guys who stand alone among their countrymen, we put a call in to Hanssen to handle some players from the land of his forefathers.
Howdy folks! I've been asked to come out of semi-retirement/hermitage by Dom to write a profile or two on guys from my area of expertise, The Great White North. So let's take a look at one of the prospects you might not have heard of but could wind up being a steal of the draft.
Odds are by the time the Isles get to pick, Adam Larsson, the stud Swedish defenseman and consensus #1 prize in the draft will be long gone. But if Garth Snow is jonesing for a large Swede to patrol the blueline in Nassau in the future, there is another option: Oskar (Or Oscar depending on who you talk to) Klefbom of Farjestad's senior and U18 team.
He's big. He's raw. He could wind up being one of the better defensemen taken in the draft. Or he could be Branislav Mezei 2.0. Lets take a closer look at the other big Swedish defenseman, the one with the name headline writers and commenters will come up with if he ever becomes a heavy hitter and also a built in nickname.
Some Rankings by People Who Generally Know More than We Do
THN: 37 (Overall)
ISS: 10 (Overall)
CSS: 6 (European Skaters)
TSN's Bob MacKenzie: Not Ranked
Klefbom has increased his draft stock throughout the season. He started the year playing for Farjestad's U18 team but got the call up to the Elitserien in December. He played the final half of the season with the big boys who went on to win the Elitserien. Klefbom then proceeded to captain Sweden's silver medal winning U18 team at the WJC-U18 this past April in Germany. This strong second half of the year has raised Klefbom's profile in the second half of the season and could have him cracking the top ten of the draft and will probably be the third or fourth defenseman taken depending on where Doug Hamilton and Farjestad teammate Jonas Brodin get picked.
Would the Isles be interested in Klefbom? Well right now defense seems to be one of the deeper parts of the Isles prospect pool with Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness all turning pro this off season. But Klefbom has something those guys don't have - size. I think the Isles made a mistake by passing on Patrik Nemeth last year (Instead trading up to get Brock Nelson). He would have provided the Isles with a big body on the blueline, and a guy with a real nasty streak and toughness that would be a welcome addition to the umpa-lumpa defensemen the Isles currently have. Drafting Klefbom would give the Isles a big body on the blueline a couple of years down the line and the potential to get a poor man's Larsson.
That being said, Klefbom seems a bit like a boom or bust player. The differential between THN ranking him as an early second rounder and ISS putting him as the tenth best skater kind of shows how disparate the views are on what type of player he will be. He's 17, will turn 18 in July. He's big but outside of 23 games in the Elitserien and the WJC-U18, is relatively untested. He was chosen over more highly ranked players (Like his teammate Brodin) to captain Sweden's U18 team, so there are leadership qualities present. At the same time Farjestad kept him off the playoff roster while Brodin played in all 14 games on their march towards the championship. He could be a very good two way defenseman with size. Or he could wind up being a 6'3" road cone. Is it enough to gamble a high pick on him? Or trade picks to move into the middle-late part of the 1st round and pick him a la de Haan two years ago?
Some Descriptions by People Who Likewise Have More Clues than We're Privy To
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...scouts still see enough potential in him to be a solid second round pick. Jonathan Ericsson of Detroit comes to mind.
He has really presented himself well when he has had the chance,' a scout said. 'But you watch him play in the (Swedish) men's league and he doesn't get enough ice time or responsibility to know how good he is
The Scouting Report (ranks him 19th):
He has a calming presence on the ice and does a good job of playing mistake-free hockey, which is something that will allow him to play in the NHL sooner than later. Like Beaulieu, he may not have a ton of high-end potential, but has more than enough to justify being picked in this range.
Oscar Klefbom’s defensive game is his strong point this early in his career. He needs to improve his positioning, but has already mastered using his body as a strength. His strong skating has also helped the defensive aspects of his game. With his size he brings a good amount of grit and aggression to the game as well.
Svenskafans (Via Google Translator):
Large, young defenseman who is a good passningsläggare and that can make quick decisions on the ice. Good leadership skills he possesses also.
A little experience in the Elite League and play at a high level.
Where Will He Go?
Your guess is as good as mine. ISS has him with their ranking going in the Top 12. The Hockey Writers have him going in the 15-20 range. THN has him as an early 2nd rounder. I don't think there is a single player in this draft who is as enigmatic when it comes to draft position as Klefbom has. I like him, but not in the top 12. He's too risky as a boom or bust to invest a high pick or trade up to get him. If he's there early second round, snatch him up.