Catching Up with Morgan Klimchuk

It’s a good news, bad news situation for Calgary Flames prospect watchers this weekend.

The good news is that the Brandon Wheat Kings have a chance to advance to the Western Hockey League finals with a win tonight at home against the Calgary Hitmen. The bad news is that Keegan Kanzig’s season, and junior career, are likely nearing their end (with the Hitmen down 3-1 in the series). The better news is that 2013 first round pick Morgan Klimchuk – the only first rounder from the last two drafts not to have dipped his toe in the NHL pond yet – is having a very good series.

In Wednesday’s Game 4, he had the game-winning goal and two assists in what may end up being the final junior game he plays in the Scotiabank Saddledome – his hometown rink. We caught up with Klimchuk outside the Wheat Kings locker room, just down the hall from the Flames room, after the game.

You’ve been with Brandon for awhile now. How does it compare to your experience playing with Regina?

You know, in a way it’s the same. I think I play the same role here as I did in Regina. It’s a little different because night-in, night-out, we have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net, so there’s not that much pressure on a guy. But it’s pretty similar; play a lot of penalty kill, power play, against the other team’s top line most nights, so it’s pretty demanding.

As someone in the organization, how do you view the Flames’ success this season?

It’s been a pleasure to watch. Honestly, you can’t say enough about how well they’re doing, everyone from top to bottom. They got my respect for sure, because they’ve definitely earned it.

One of the more exciting things for fans right now is that it’s the young players driving the Flames’ success this year. As a young player in the organization, does their success energize you?

Yeah, that’s exactly it, and that’s exactly what you want. You want to have young guys that are contributing and kind of balancing out the act from the older guys as well. I knew the whole time that guys like Bennett and Ferland and Granlund and all those guys were really special players, and they’re getting a chance to show it now and they’re taking advantage of it. It’s not really a surprise, but I’m really happy for them.

You’re obviously very focused on your playoff run right now, but have you given any thought to your future or turning pro?

Yeah, it’s kind of, you gotta put that to the back of your mind because right now, my focus is the Eastern Conference Finals and obviously taking it day by day. Whether it’s a practice or a game, you can’t look too far ahead.

A lot of players talk about leaving on top [editor’s note: Jon Gillies just did that, for instance], would adding some hardware at season’s end impact any decisions you make about your future?

No. It’s going to be one of those things that I deal with at the end of the summer. I gotta focus day-by-day, like I said. It’s a bit cliche, but it’s the truth.

  • everton fc

    If I were Hartley, I’d put my lines in a blender now. The definition of neurotic behaviour is doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.

    I’d make Monahan, Ferland and Colborne a chequing line to try to shut done Perry, Getzalf. Move Bennett between Gaudreau and Hudler for scoring.

    Stajan between Jones and Wolf. Jouris between Bollig and Shore.

    Move -5 Engelland off the second pairing and put Brodie with Shlemko.

    Bouma is skating aghain. When he’s back, hopefully for first game in Calgary take out Shore and put Wolf on 4th line. We then have more size and can hopefully counter the ducks “intimidating” the Flames as was pointed out on the CBC broadcast.

    Wolf and Ferland are the designated hitters assigned the job of making sure “liberties” are not taken with our smaller players and hitting their guys hard.

    Feedback?

    I suspect not many people will see this positing and am planning to repost it here if that happens.

    • Burnward

      I’d love to see Hartley put Wolf alongside Johnny next game.

      It’d be like something out of Slap Shot. “Who the bleep is this guy? Seriously? Wolf?!?”

      • everton fc

        As much as I like the “Cult of Wolf”, I still don’t think he can skate at the NHL level. Yet. And maybe never. We shall see.

        Anyone watching the Wheaties/Hitmen series should be able to see Eric Roy is worth an ELC. I do hope Burke and Treliving see the same. He has smoothed the rough spots of his defensive play, has become a better two-way player, and will always tally points.

        I think our Flames will brush off the 6-1 drubbing and look much better in Game 2. As for Kilmchuk, the comment about making Sven redundant may be accurate. Plus, he’s a local boy. I pull for our local boys…

        Tim McCauley looks good for Brandon. Undrafted, but a centre. We don’t need centres. But the Oilers do.

        • everton fc

          Roy has played very well all year and in this series especially. He has made a couple of bonehead mistakes for an overage though. Klimchuk has impressed in this series. Much more than the other times I saw him play this year (granted, Regina was not very good outside of him and Padakin).

          I’d like to see Roy get an ELC to see how he plays in the AHL, but he’s got a ways to go before he’s NHL ready.

          With Kanzig, until he learns to play much more nasty, he’s not going to make the NHL. Also, he needs to take some lessons from Robyn Regehr, a guy who wasn’t the most fleet of foot but hardly got beat in his prime. Robyn was an angles master on the defensive side of the puck, and that’s what Keegan needs to learn to make the next step.

  • Burnward

    I have high hopes for Klimchuk, he’s going to be a solid NHL’er. Against the odds, the Flames hit on all 3 1st rounders that year
    Hm against all odds, seems to be a common theme for the Flames lately doesn’t it? 🙂

  • everton fc

    Good at a lot of things but not great at anything at the junior level 2 years after his draft. Also appears to struggle with injuries. I’m not now or never have been too excited about Klymchuk as a prospect. Hope he proves me wrong.

  • Burnward

    The Heat (man I’m miffed that that nickname won the contest. again.) are going to have a really young blueline next season. Kulak and Culkin are already there, Rafikov is coming to North America, Kanzig and Roy (maybe) are turning pro. And if the Flames draft, say, Oliver Kylington maybe him as well.

    Has Roy shown enough to warrant a contract?

    Love Klimchuk, though strictly speaking he didn’t have a great season.

    • Burnward

      I don’t think Rafikov is coming to North America next year… he’ll be a player for us, but I think his dream is to make the KHL first and play for Loko Yaroslavl, and then make the jump straight to our NHL team when he’s ready. I do think he’ll be at prospects camp this year though.