June 09 2014 01:38PM
Via the NHL
Morgan Klimchuk had two modes this year: the "dealing with a bum hip" mode and the "carrying the Regina Pats as far as he could" mode. Last year's third first rounder (28th overall), Klimchuk was able to increase his NHLE year-over-year - convincing our panel of judges to rank the 19-year-old Calgary product 8th in our countdown.
Klimchuk's "low" totals and average splits in his draft year were buoyed by the fact that he was responsible for so much of Regina's offence. He immediately made an impact with his strong positional play and reading of the game at last year's development camp after June's draft. Klimchuk didn't get much of a look at main camp, though, as an abdomen injury limited his ice time.
After returning to the Pats, Klimchuk started where he left off last year - providing more than a PPG for Regina in the 30 or so games before a hip injury sidelined him for almost six weeks. Klimchuk didn't miss too many games, as most of that time was during the CHL's winter break... but that also meant that Klimchuk was completely passed over for this year's World Junior team.
In terms of NHLE, Klimchuk went from 25 to 32 year-over-year and he did it sustainably (as we'll see below). His overall goal total was less this year (30) than last (36) but he did increase his goals-per-game and assists-per-game.
Post-injury, his overall scoring pace slowed a little bit - but that's probably just the ebbs and flows of the season. The first time I'm really going to get to watch Klimchuk closely is this year's development camp - he didn't play in the Pats/Hitmen game I saw and I don't want to make too many pronouncements based on two games of barely-standard definition on Shaw TV.
Most of what I saw matched the scouting report: Klimchuk might not have a plus shot or elite skating ability, but he knows where he needs to be and he knows who's going to get open. Not to say that he is necessarily lacking in any ability - his physical talents are those of a first-rounder. He was third in the Pats in scoring (despite playing 10 or so less games than those around him) and first in points per game.
|Power Play Points||Secondary Assists||Team Scoring|
|Morgan Klimchuk||34% (25/74)||36% (16/44)||37% (74/202)|
Not only did Klimchuk's overall NHLE improve, his PPP% and A2% were both reduced: both very good things. His TS% went down, but when you're in on as much offense as Klimchuk was last year (40%) and the team improves how it did this year, there's basically no way for it to remain constant. It is still very healthy.
Acting GM Brian Burke signed Klimchuk in December, meaning that Klimchuk's contract will continue to slide this season. Klimchuk played in all situations for the Pats last year - he had 5 goals and 5 assists on the penalty kill - so I'd be willing to bet if he is in Regina that'll be the same deal. I expect the LW to spend another season at the WHL level and to put in a very convincing argument to be included on this year's edition of the U-20 World Juniors.