SUN Hockey Pool

Klefbom gets sneak peek at new digs

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:20 AM ET

EDMONTON - Oscar Klefbom got a sneak peak at perhaps his future home on Thursday.

The Edmonton Oilers prospect is in town with the Swedish world junior team, and took in the game against the Minnesota Wild with the rest of his teammates.

Sweden faces Canada in an exhibition contest Friday at Rexall Place.

“I think we’re going to have a very good (world junior) team,” said Klefbom. “We have a couple of guys that played in last year’s tournament. I think we have a chance to win gold, so I’m excited.

“I know it’s going to be hard to beat Canada, but that’s one of the things that makes the tournament more fun. It’ll be tough to beat them, we have to do everything right.”

Klefbom, 18, was selected by the Oilers in the first round — 19th overall – of last summer’s NHL Entry Draft. The six-foot-three, 204-pound defenceman is currently playing with Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League and could be at Oilers training camp next September.

“It’s a strange feeling being here,” Klefbom said. “This is my team, I like it. It’s a thrill to see everything around here, I feel good about it.”

TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE ...

Ales Hemsky missed Thursday’s game due to illness and did not dress despite taking the morning skate.

Hemsky has struggled offensively so far this season and questions about his practice habits were brought up with head coach Tom Renney prior to Thursday’s tilt against the Wild.

Needing treatment on his two surgically-repaired shoulders nearly on a daily basis, Renney said it’s up to the Oilers winger to try and find the time to work on his game.

“That’s No. 1, you have to commit to that,” Renney said. “He’s one of those guys that because of his need for treatment, it’s abbreviated a lot of the time. The extra stuff is out of the equation because he has to get his treatment.

“That being said, when you’re out doing whatever the practice drill might be, whatever the circumstance may be, you have to be fully engaged. That’s ultimately the choice the player makes. If I’m OK with what I see then fine, if not, then I have to step up and make a decision.”

Hemsky has three goals and eight assists in 22 games this season.

IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT

Having dropped nine of their previous 11 games and heading out on a seven-game road trip following the Christmas break, the importance of Thursday’s game was not lost on the Oilers.

“It’s mentally big,” said Renney. “After this, we go into Vancouver on Boxing Day and turkey day is always real fun for everybody to watch, especially behind the bench. So we want to have a real, good game (Thursday) because I know how I’m going to feel on Boxing Day.”

After facing the Canucks the Oilers will return home to practice for a couple of days before heading to Minnesota to start a road trip that continues through Long Island, Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis and Dallas.

“We have a real big road trip coming up, it’s our second big one of the year,” Renney said. “We didn’t fare as well as we wanted on the first one so we want to make sure we have good traction heading out. We want to be able to reference a game like (Thursday), which could be a key to how that trip turns out.”

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Jared Spurgeon did not catch the charter back to Minnesota following Thursday’s game. The Wild defenceman will stay home in Edmonton during the Christmas break before rejoining his team on Boxing Day.

A year ago, Spurgeon had just been called up to play with the Wild from their AHL affiliate in Houston. This season, he’s averaging well over 21-minutes a night with the Wild.

“Obviously it’s nice when you do get those minutes, but even on the nights that you don’t it’s good, because you know someone else is going,” Spurgeon said. “I want to contribute in any way I can and the most important thing for me is that we get the win.

“When you have the coach behind you and he shows a lot of faith in you, it gives you extra confidence. You know that if you do make a mistake, he’ll send you right back out there and give you a chance to redeem yourself.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@Sundvandiest


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