The 2014 Flames Fifteen – #8: Morgan Klimchuk

morgan_klimchuk_calgary_flames_12_19_13

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. 

  Justin Kent Ryan BoL Byron Taylor Christian 2013 2012
Morgan Klimchuk 7 11 10 8 6 7 6 N/D N/D

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.

Conclusion

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. 

  • FeyWest

    Man I can’t believe how awesome the 2013 draft is trending and looking like a home run with our 1st rounders.

    Obviously premature determination but all indications seem to be developing in the right direction.

    Klimchuk is the least of the 3 guys that I’ve followed as he’s been overshadowed by Money and Poirier but I’m just as excited for him and the rest of our guys!!

  • I always liked that pick. Solid late first round pickup.

    Looks like Morgan and Rocketskates have switched positions this summmer as far as one being healthy and the other being injured and unable to play.

    • FeyWest

      Rocketskates?!? I like that 😛 gonna have to steal that I think hehehe.

      It sounds bad but I think Poirier being injured might work out better in the long run. Not that I was worried about him being rushed but I think one year on the Baby Flames will be good for him.

      Lets him recuperate and get back into the swing of things hopefully dominating the A. And it’s even more interesting to know that he was playing injured for a good chunk of games and if he can produce like he did in that state, can’t even imagine it when he’s at 100%.

  • FeyWest

    5 or 6 years ago, Klimchuk would probably be in the top 2 or 3 of the Flames’ prospects. The fact that this guy is ranked number 8 is unbelievable. Flames sure have come a long way

  • Byron Bader

    Some good looking statistical figures on Klimchuk there. Send him back for another year and let him destroy the dub. Very solid 1st rounders from 2013. Their drafts have looked pretty good, in general, since 2010.

  • McRib

    “..I saw and I don’t want to make too many pronouncements based on two games of barely-standard definition on Shaw TV.”

    How do we convince WHL on Shaw to buy a couple of new cameras for next years broadcasts? Hahah. As the “High-Definition” version on Channel 303 is not even passable as a “Standard-Definition” broadcast circa 2000.

  • McRib

    I would love to see Morgan Klimchuk’s advance stats besides Curtis Lazar’s numbers…

    Because according to NHLE they are very close:

    Kilmchuk went from a NHLE of 25.97 last year to 31.94 (while battling two seperate injuries this season). Lazar went from an NHLE of 20.84 to 32.23 (whilst playing on the number one team in the CHL).

    Its interesting Hockey News considers Lazar as a Top. 10 prospect and doesn’t consider Klimchuk as a Top. 50 at all, yet NHLE/PPG are almost idential and both are gym rats with great character.

    Once he got healthy this season after nagging injuries in the first half (after Training Camp and at the Russia Series). Morgan Klimchuk was on fire in Jan/Feb with 34 points in two months. During that time he had 1.54 PPG and an NHLE of 37.93.In terms of numbers Morgan Klimchuk looks like a slightly better offensive prospect than Curtis Lazar (considering each others linemates), yet the Hockey World can’t stop talking about Lazar and it’s dead silence for Klimchuk.

    • FeyWest

      I’m perfectly okay with the ‘Hockey World’ continuing to ignore the upward trends of the flames prospects. Klimchuck can just continue his development without any of the pressure a “TOP PROSPECT” like Lazar will garner.

  • Freakin' Saprykin

    What do you guys think Klimchuk will turn out to be? I can’t say I’ve watched many of his games but I don’t ever really hear of one area that he specifically excels at

    • BurningSensation

      Think ‘Jordan Eberle-lite’, or ‘Poor man’s Voracek’, Klimchuk can do lots of things well, but has no single elite ability or skill. He skates well, but isn’t a speed demon. He has a nice shot, but can’t overpower goalies with it. He’s a very good playmaker but isn’t a guy you can build a line around.

      He’s one of those really useful ‘link-up’ players. Someone who won’t be the feature offensive star on a line, but someone who can make that feature offensive star shine.

      • McRib

        “Klimchuk can do lots of things well, but has no single elite ability or skill.”

        I don’t know Klimchuk plays with such little help I think he is forced to be more of a utility player for Regina’s offense, because of that I think he does have an underrated shot, as teammates rarely allow him to get a clean look at the net in space. For example if Klimchuk played with an elite setup guy on a top team like Curtis Lazar does with Henrik Samuelsson, I think he already would have at least one 50 Goal WHL season under his belt.

        Obviously, I think the consensus of him being a 50 point guy at the next level is fair, but if he is surrounded by other offensive players his offensive skills might standout a bit more and he could hit the 60-70 mark. He really seems like a guy that will be a reliable two-way second liner that can elevate game to the first line if needed. Similar to a Chris Kunitz.

    • Freakin' Saprykin

      Pretty sure he re-enters the draft like Coda Gordon. I don’t see any point to bringing in Sutter myself. He scored okay in his draft year, but his numbers fell out of the sky dead in his draft+1 and +2 seasons.

      If the Flames didn’t think Gordon was worth keeping, why would they bother with someone who is smaller, (slightly) older, and scored a lot less?

  • Freakin' Saprykin

    I saw him play on a line with McDavid and Reinhart at the under18s and he was extremely feisty and quick on the puck.

    That whole line was impressive to say the least..

  • jeremywilhelm

    Whats wrong with the moderators. Wotherspoon played admirably in the NHL last spring, Morgan has only played junior? It seems out of whack to me.
    Don’t get me wrong I’ve watched Morgan play in Bantam and Pee Wee with his buddy Jay Merkley, he’s awesome. But what I saw last spring in Tyler reminded me of a young Al McInnis as a defensman. I know his shot isn’t the same, but the kid can play.