LAS VEGAS — There are 31 teams in the National Hockey League, but there likely isn’t even 20 of hockey’s most coveted NHL player — the No. 1 defenceman.
Roman Josi, Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Brent Burns, Mark Giordano. Now a John Carlson … soon a Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes.
Buy a jug of beer, get two buddies around the table, and if the three of you can unanimously agree on 20 pure No. 1’s, we’ll buy.
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Which brings us to Oscar Klefbom, who has never made anyone’s universal list — even though he has been Edmonton’s No. 1 for some time now. He leads the NHL in time on ice per game (25:56), is ninth among defencemen in points (17), quarterbacks the NHL’s leading powerplay and anchors the league’s second-best penalty-killing unit.
Yet, you might ask 20 NHL general managers if he’s a legit No. 1 and not get a single “Yes.”
“Is that fair?” we asked Klefbom after a practice in Las Vegas.
“For sure, it’s a fair question,” responded the handsome Swede, completely unoffended by the question. “You look at a guy like Drew Doughty — he’s been playing 27 minutes for I don’t know how many years now. He’s been consistent for many, many years. Victor Hedman, plays a lot of minutes, a lot of responsibility for so many years.
“I’m really happy with the way I play right now. But, ask me in five years. Hopefully, if I can keep it up, it’s another discussion (for down the road). Now,