With the Jan. 13 start date for the NHL season finally in place, Edmonton Oilers fans heard the news they’d been fearing about one of the team’s top players.
Oscar Klefbom won’t play.
“He’s out for 2021. He’s exploring his options. He’s shooting for trying to be in camp in September,” said general manager Ken Holland. “He’s talking to some people (about) whether he should have shoulder surgery or if he’s better off just to get time off.”
Klefbom’s status had been up in the air since September, when Holland disclosed that he wasn’t expecting to have the defenceman at least for the start of the season.
The Oilers do have free agent signing Tyson Barrie to take Klefbom’s place on the power play. His five-on-five minutes will likely be divided up among Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones and Kris Russell. Holland didn’t rule out adding another left shot blueliner before training camp on January 3.
“On the defence end, I’m exploring options as to what we do,” said Holland.
The Oilers GM also has to work on a new deal for restricted free agent defenceman Ethan Bear. The 23-year-old became a regular in 2019-20, posting 21 points in 71 games.
“We’ve had talks. (Assistant general manager) Bill Scott has a real relationship with Ethan’s agent, so I’ve got Bill Scott really being the point person,” said Holland.
“We haven’t talked anything other than one or two or three years. Hopefully we can find a solution and get him into camp. He’s an important part of our team.”
NHL players have until Dec. 27 to opt out of the upcoming season. Holland doesn’t believe any Oilers will choose that path, but at least one player will miss the start of camp.
“Gaetan Haas, on Dec. 14, played in a game in a Swiss league. There were a number of players in that game who had COVID(-19),” Holland said. “He was a close contact. He cannot be on a plane until the 28th or 29th of December.
“When he gets to Edmonton, he’ll have to quarantine for eight days.”
Holland revealed that the Oilers will play Calgary and Vancouver 10 times each in the upcoming season, with nine games each against the other four teams in the North Division.
Watch below: (From Oct. 9, 2020) The Edmonton Oilers opened free agency on Friday by signing centre Kyle Turris to a two-year contract. Kevin Karius reports.