Klefbom visits Edmonton for workouts and on-ice sessions
Oilers prospect will skate on Rexall ice for the first time in orange and blue
"I'm excited," he said, smiling. "It's always nice being back in Edmonton."
Especially now that he's stronger and healthier than he's been in almost seven months after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
That's old news.
Playing in his third season with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League, the 19-year-old was hurt on Oct. 9 in Vaxjo when an accidental collision resulted in a devastating shoulder injury.
His recovery since has gone exceptionally well, however. So much so that a return to action in 2012-13 may have been possible if Farjestad had advanced to the Elitserien Final.
"Maybe there was a chance, but I don't think Edmonton would have wanted me to play," said Klefbom. The shoulder felt pretty good, but I didn't want to risk anything for next season. My only focus now is on Edmonton and trying to get a place on the team.
"Right now my shoulder feels great -- much more stable than it did the last time I visited. I'm trying to get some weights in my training right now so I can put some muscle back on."
Klefbom has been skating for a few weeks now and is back in Edmonton for a check-up with Oilers doctors. During his stay, which will last until the end of the regular season, the 6-foot-3, 204-pound rearguard will participate in a series of workouts and on-ice sessions.
Klefbom has skated on Rexall Place ice once before -- in an exhibition match vs. Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship -- but never in Oilers colours. (While he will participate in practices, Klefbom will not suit up for the Oilers in game action this season.)
"Oh my God," he laughed. "It's going to be a lot of fun to hit the ice here at Rexall. I can't wait."
During Oilers games, in an assignment given by Head Coach Ralph Krueger, the 19th overall pick in 2011 will be studying the play of veteran defenceman Nick Schultz from high above the ice surface.
"(Krueger) sees me as a pretty similar player to Nick, and I do as well," he said. "I've been watching Nick's skating, his positioning and how he brings such a solid defensive game to the Oilers. I think he's a really good player, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can by watching him."
"It's wonderful to have him here," added Krueger. "We're going to continue to integrate him into the program and into the system."
Paired with veteran defenceman Sanny Lindstrom, a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 1990, Klefbom posted three assists (a career-high in points) and an Elitserien-leading +7 rating after 10 games this season with Farjestad.
"I started very well," said Klefbom. "At the European Trophy Tournament before the Swedish Elite League season started, it went very well and Sanny and I had a great connection. Everything was going well, I was having a big season and was on my way. I felt really good, better than I ever have, so I hope I can bring that game that I played at the start of the season into the summer camp here in Edmonton."
Lindstrom was instrumental in Klefbom's development this season, but so, too, was another highly regarded veteran.
MacTier, Ont. product Chris Lee, who's spent the past three seasons overseas, was a force on Farjestad's blue line this season. The 32-year-old was named team MVP after posting 12 goals, 41 points and a +20 rating in 54 games.
Early in the season when Lee missed a game due to the birth of his first child, Klefbom stepped up and into the role as Farjestad's top defenceman. On a pairing with Ville Lajunen, the Karlstad native played over 25 minutes (that, too, was a career-high) and recorded an even rating in a 2-1 win over AIK Stockholm.
"Chris is an incredible player," said Klefbom. "When the season started, I didn't get to practice a whole lot because I was out getting some fluids. The first time I saw Chris was in the first game of the year. He's an incredibly good skater -- that's his biggest weapon. He's very good positionally as well, like Nick Schultz. He also has a very good shot, so he's excellent on the power-play and obviously created a lot of goals for us this season.
"He's a great leader to me. He and our goalie Alexander Salak were the most important players for us this year."
Farjestad had a terrific season, finishing second to Skelleftea AIK with a 34-14-7 record. In the playoffs, they defeated Modo in five games but were eliminated by Lulea in the semifinals.
"I'm an Oiler, but Sweden is still my home so it was very nice to see the team play well and to be a part of it," said Klefbom. "Overall, it was a very good year.
"For me, personally, it was good as well. It would have been better to be playing, but I've been able to learn a lot, visit Edmonton often and pick up on the style the Oilers play. It should help me a lot heading into the summer and into next season."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick