Klefbom sets sights on shoulder surgery for return to Oilers

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Oscar Klefbom said he believes he needs surgery to repair the chronic shoulder injury that will keep him out of the 2020-21 NHL season but is unsure when it will happen.

The Edmonton Oilers defensemen said Monday planning the surgery has been complicated by issues surrounding the coronavirus, including travel and the availability to see medical personnel and schedule procedures. 

“[Ideally], I would like to go over and see a doctor in Cleveland and get some answers,” Klefbom said from his home in Karlstad, Sweden. “It’s obviously a big decision that I’m going to have to take to get my shoulder replacement or shoulder surgery done.

“For me I’m just going to take it one day at a time here and then I have to talk to the medical staff once again in Edmonton and see what’s going on and what’s best for me right now.”

No timetable for recovery for the surgery, if it happens, is known at this point.

The shoulder injury caused Klefbom to miss nine games last season, from Feb. 19-March 5, 2020. He returned to play three games before the NHL paused its season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. 

“The loss of ‘Klef’ comes secondary to obviously what he’s feeling,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “His shoulder has been an issue for a long, long time and he’s battled through it for a long time. He’s obviously made the decision to fix that. We’re not talking about him coming back and playing or anything. We’re talking about him making sure he feels good on a day-to-day basis. He’s got a long life after [hockey]. He’s going to do the surgery and if he makes his way back to hockey, then great. If not, you obviously hope he feels good, that’s the main thing.”

The 27-year-old averaged 25:25 of ice time per game last season, most among Oilers defensemen and tied with Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks for fifth among NHL defensemen, and scored 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 62 regular-season games. He had two assists in four games in the Oilers’ loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Klefbom has scored 156 points (34 goals, 122 assists) in 378 NHL games.

Pain in his shoulder during recent seasons is driving Klefbom’s desire to have surgery.

“We’re looking into options and hopefully I can get some good shoulder surgery done and get some kind of release from pain so I can live my private life a little bit better,” he said. “In the end, I want to get back playing for the Edmonton Oilers.”

The Oilers confirmed last month that Klefbom was going to miss 2020-21 regular season, which is scheduled to end on May 8. 

Klefbom said Monday that he believes his shoulder problems began while playing for Farjestads in the Swedish Hockey League (2010-13). Klefbom was selected in the first round (No. 19) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

“I kind of separated my shoulder pretty badly and from what I’ve heard there’s a risk for arthritis and other stuff going with this when you have this kind of surgery that I had in my younger days,” he said. “But hopefully that’s going to be taken care of. You can play through a lot of pain as a hockey player, but you’ve got to be smart as well. Hopefully this is a problem that we can solve.”

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