(SOURCE: ESPN) The Edmonton Oilers announced a seven-year contract extension for 20-year-old defenseman Oscar Klefbom on Sunday. According to an NHL source, the contract is worth $4.167 million per season. Klefbom, the No. 19 overall pick in 2011, has only played in 77 career NHL games and has registered 23 points in that time. His signing follows a trend of teams locking up young defenseman to long-term contracts even before players fully prove themselves at the NHL level.
I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The current trend in the NHL is to lock up young defenseman for super duper years and hope the over-paid salary the team pays the player early in the deal is deemed a great bargain down the road when they’re locked in studs. But even by Peter Chiarelli’s standards handing out cash like this to anyone after only 77 career games seems like a stretch.
A couple things here; I’m pretty high on Klefbom. I do think he’ll be a good NHL defenseman. And his agent is probably screaming, “Hey kid, $28+ million guaranteed at 20-years-old? This is what Chiarelli does. Take it and run!” It’s not a bad methodology to use with clients. But if Klefbom turns out to be what we think he can be, if I’m him I wait and try to get the $5.5-6 million per year deal out of Chiarelli and Edmonton. If he can’t get it from them some one would still pay him the $4 million-per he’s going to get now.
Secondly, he’s saddled up on the fastest horse to the future with Connor McDavid in Edmonton. Klefbom may want to ride that gravy train for the early-to-peak years of McDavid’s career and not miss out on the best thing since Crosby. There could be a Stanley Cup or two ripe for the picking over the next seven years of his new deal. It’s a little more comfortable playing defense with the best scorer on the planet on your team.
And of course lastly, good ol’ Peter Chiarelli. This guy does not bat an eye at locking people up long-term even if there are some serious questions as to the rationale. Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg, Reilly Smith, Rich Peverley, Andrej Sekera, all come to mind from Chiarelli’s resume. There is a lot at stake here with this contract. If Klefbom, for some reason, ends up a bottom pairing defenseman then this is a real bad deal. At this point I’m almost starting to respect Chiarelli for just going double-barrels blazing into his job. I’m just glad he’s not still in Boston because as much as I liked Dougie Hamilton, Chiarelli would have thrown $7+ milliom at him in a heart beat.
In the end I think Klefbom should live up to his end of the deal. It’s a risk on Edmonton’s part but not one that is TOO extreme. And as I stated earlier, if Connor McDavid is who we all think he is, people won’t care what cheddar Klefbom pulls down if they end up on a Pittsburgh Penguins circa 2009 run.
But for now would some one please go take the checkbook away from ol’ Pete.