July 22 2013 08:17AM
Of the three first round picks that the Calgary Flames made in the 2013 NHL Draft, Morgan Klimchuk may have been accompanied by the least pomp and circumstance. Sean Monahan was chosen with the highest draft choice the club has had in years. Emile Poirier was chosen a bit off board when high scoring, Calgary-born Hunter Shinkaruk was still available, so he gets some special attention for that.
Klimchuk? He's a local boy that plays a strong three-zone game for the Regina Pats, steady and generally unflappable. When he held court with local media following the first scrimmage of development camp, that genial, calm demeanour continued to show through. He shared his excitement about getting his first opportunity to don a Flames jersey at the camp.
“I was talking to people coming into the camp, asking what to expect, but it's tough – like you said – you're doing two-a-days, not a lot of sleep. But it's great to be wearing this jersey and get this experience going, kind of getting my feet wet and what to expect from the Flames,” said Klimchuk.
The 18-year-old Klimchuk didn't dazzle with offensive flair in either camp scrimmage – that's not really his game, he's more of a strong positional player who sets things up in each zone – but noted the scrimmages were positive experiences. He discussed how the fan support made the games exciting for those involved.
“I came to the scrimmage last year and it was a pretty good turnout for that one, too. It's great to see fan support. It means a lot to us players, and it's a pretty good atmosphere for the games, so I was pretty happy to see that,” said Klimchuk.
Despite living in town, Klimchuk opted to stay in the team hotel during the camp, rooming with Sean Monahan. He noted the opportunity available this year in the Flames organization, as noted by Flames GM Jay Feaster when things opened, and how it framed his approach to the week-long camp.
“You come here to earn a spot on the team, I think that's the ultimate goal. So when you're playing against other guys that are trying out for the same position, or trying out for the team in general, you want to make sure you out-play them. But there's a lot of great players here – it might take awhile or it might happen pretty quick, you just want to play your hardest every night,” said Klimchuk.
With the log-jam of established pros and older rookies he's likely facing at main training camp this year, don't expect to see Klimchuk wearing the Flaming C this season. However, with an improving Regina Pats club looking to rebound from a disappointing season and Klimchuk motivated to improve his game he may be poised for a break-out year in the WHL.
As of now, Klimchuk is the only one of the Flames first round picks from the last two years not attending Team Canada's World Junior summer camp, with Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier and Mark Jankowski headed to Lake Placid in August. If he gets off to a strong start, that may change by December.