“He doesn't mind the physical stuff,” Nelson said. “It's more or less the mental side, learning the pro game, adjusting to the way the game is played over here. His time with us is really going to help his development.”
There were rumblings Klefbom might make Edmonton's opening day roster without starting his career in the minors. But in addition to lacking experience, there's another reason why the 6-foot-3, 195-pound blue-liner could be with the Barons a few months.
Because the Oilers are committing $18 million a year to three young stars — $6 million each for Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — the organization needs to find ways to save salary cap dollars.
Edmonton will retain an extra year of restricted free-agent rights on Klefbom if he plays less than 40 NHL games this season.
Regardless when he makes his NHL debut, Klefbom embraces the opportunity to work on his game with the Barons, spending a lot of time with OKC assistant Rocky Thompson.
“Here in the minors we learn to play defensive hockey, how to play away from the puck, something he does pretty well,” Nelson said. “He's a good skater. He can handle the puck. He has all those skills. He has that mindset of playing defense. That's a big plus. He just needs some experience.”