Edmonton Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom says there are no guarantees as to his future in the NHL.
The 27-year-old had surgery on his left shoulder last month and knows that what lies ahead is an arduous rehabilitation process dotted with plenty of question marks.
And that process has no guarantees at the end of the line.
Dr. Anthony Miniaci, who performed the surgery in Cleveland, had no easy answers about Klefbom’s playing future.
“That’s the thing…it’s tough to say,” said Klefbom on Friday. “He says I might be able to play again, but there’s always going to be a risk. We’re going to see where I am at when the rehab time is coming to an end, and it’s time to make a decision. We’re going to follow up…many, many times. He’s optimistic, but he cannot really guarantee anything.”
Quality of life and viability of future are prime concerns for the blueliner, who averaged 25:25 of ice time last season for the Oilers last season.
But there is every chance Klefbom never appears in an Edmonton sweater again, especially with the impending Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21.
Klefbom has been contending with his left shoulder since his draft year in 2011 and the nagging issue will, in all likelihood, continue to plague him.
“There’s not really a lot I can do. It’s going to take some time for the muscles to heal,” he said. “It’s going to be very boring not being around the guys while they’re in the playoffs. I’m going to go home for a bit then come back and see the doctors to check up on things. I’m going to do my best to be in the best shape I can be in the late summer.”
The Oilers have placed Dmitry Kulikov with Adam Larsson at practice Friday and all signs point to the newly-acquired defenceman making his debut Monday in Winnipeg.
For Klefbom, the writing is on the wall for sure.
“I wouldn’t be shocked…obviously my whole NHL career has been in Edmonton and I love the city, the organization and the guys here but it’s a business,” he said. “I understand [general manager] Kenny’s [Holland] situation, for all the NHL teams when it comes to protecting players. I just have to be ready for when the puck drops, whether that’s in Seattle or Edmonton.”
If Klefbom is ready when the puck drops again, it’ll be great to see him on the ice. But the decision still requires an answer, lacking assurances for now. There is life beyond hockey, life that players like Ryan Kesler and Johan Franzen know all too much about. For Klefbom at just 27, the big picture questions loom larger than ever.