FlamesNation Prospect Profile: #5 Morgan Klimchuk

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Morgan
Klimchuk is FlamesNation’s 5th ranked prospect in 2015.

Being the
third of three first round picks in the much lauded 2013 Draft class has
probably contributed to Morgan Klimchuk’s status as the forgotten man in
Calgary’s prospect pool. Having the two 1st rounders ahead of him be 30 goaler
Sean Monahan and AHL All-Star Emile Poirier probably haven’t helped in that
respect either.

Whatever
the reasons, Morgan Klimchuk seems to have slipped through the cracks of
everyone’s memory, only occasionally resurfacing when prospect development
camps take place. The few fan opinions about him that do exist, seem to be
lukewarm, as the kid hasn’t set the world on fire in the WHL point wise and
isn’t the “sexy” player that will live on highlight reels.

That
doesn’t mean Morgan Klimchuk isn’t still an excellent prospect. Not even close.

Klimchuk
comes in at slot number 5 on our top prospects list and does so completely on
his own merit. This isn’t a case of a weak system elevating ones status within
it by necessity. This isn’t Greg Nemisz being the team’s best prospect because,
well, there isn’t anyone else.
 

The
Flames prospect cupboards are chock full of talent and Morgan Klimchuk is a big
reason why we can say that. Yet, when thinking about Morgan Klimchuk, it
feels difficult to associate him with some of the words usually associated with
Top 5 prospects in deep systems. 

“Elite.”
“Blue-chip.” “Electric.” “Exciting.”

None of
those words feel natural when addressing the former 1st rounder. 

I don’t
want to call him vanilla, but nothing about Morgan Klimchuk on the surface
screams out at you. He’s a pretty standard six-foot, 185 pounds. He scores in and
around a point per game in the WHL, as is expected of just about anyone with a
prayer of making the NHL, and plays an extremely responsible brand of
hockey. 

He skates
well, has a good vision and a solid hockey IQ, which contributes significantly
in keeping things tidy in his own zone, with a good stick here and blocked shot
there, and most of his goals come from his close-to NHL caliber shot. Nothing
to get highlight reel producers all hot and bothered. 

On the
surface, Morgan Klimchuk is just another prospect. I could write this entire
profile with the following sentence: “He’s a good skater with a good shot
and good passing ability, with good defensive awareness and good hockey IQ as
well as good vision and a good frame but also with a good attitude on and off
the ice”, and no one would give it a second thought. 

If you
want to find the real beauty of Morgan Klimchuk, you need to dig a little
deeper. You need to peel back that beige, bland top layer of the onion, and
look not at the score sheet, but through the score sheet. 

Klimchuk
had an NHLE of 28, stringing from 80 points in 60 games last WHL campaign,
split between the Regina Pats to start and the beast Brandon Wheat Kings to
finish. 

Now, 28
isn’t a number that’ll make you tingle, but a brief comparison exercise will
reveal it’s actually really quite good.

The top
NHLE in the WHL belonged to Oliver Bjorkstrand with 42, coming from 118 points
– showing NHLE’s corrosive nature when it relates to the WHL, as even
astounding numbers won’t produce that high of an NHLE. 
 

To add
some additional perspective, point hoarders Nic Petan and Leon Draisaitl both
had NHLEs of 35, and Sam Reinhart had an NHLE of 29. 
 

When
digging further into Klimchuk’s numbers, even more good news bubbles to the
top. Of his 46 assists, 34 of them (76%) were primary assists, meaning he
created a lot of his own points. That’s an extremely important statistic
because when coupled with the fact that only 57% of his points were assists, it
means he wasn’t riding anyone’s coattails, he was driving the bus. 

He also
contributed about 30% of his team’s offence, another bright positive given the
powerhouse he played on. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle with all the
weapons in Brandon. 

Continuing
our dig into the numbers, noticing at first glance that 47 of Klimchuk’s 80
points came even strength, you might think that’s quite a low number. 33 of 80
points on the power play, to me at least, felt like a large number. However, he
had the 5th highest ES P/60 in the entire WHL and 10th highest ES Goals For%,
so that dilutes any concern that his numbers are overinflated by a ridiculously
talented Brandon power play. 

CanucksArmy’s
Josh Weissbock and MoneyPuck have created the PCS tool, which
basically measures a prospects likelihood of playing 200+ NHL games based on
the success ‘cohorts’ possessing similar frame, age and numbers in the same
league. You can read more about PSC here

Basically, your PSC% number is the percent
chance you’ll play over 200 NHL games based on the success of previous players,
of similar height, who had similar numbers in your league at your age – the
success of your cohorts.

From
discussions with MoneyPuck, prospects with a PSC% of over 50 will be labeled
elite, over 30 are ‘A’ prospects, over 10 are ‘B’ and everyone under is a ‘C’
prospect, according to PSC.

Morgan
Klimchuk, has an amalgamated 23.61 PSC% between his two stretches of games in
Regina and Brandon, meaning he’s not quite an elite prospect, but
definitely a much better one than people seem to give him credit for.

Again, to
offer some perspective, Sam Reinhart has a PSC of 27.12%. Although Reinhart was
drafted a year later, Klimchuk was a young ’13 pick and both players played
their 19 year old campaigns in the ‘Dub this past season, so the comparison is
actually quite relative.

But despite
such similar stat lines, if I asked you who would you rather have: ‘Sam
Reinhart or Morgan Klimchuk?’, you probably wouldn’t hesitate with your answer.

So, as
standard and uninspiring a prospect Morgan Klimchuk appears to be on the
surface, he really is quite good. I saw many “Klimchuk has looked surprisingly
good” comments from this year’s development camp, and these last few paragraphs
should show those statements did not come without merit.

Fact of the
matter is, none of this is really news to scouts and keen observers of the WHL,
because Morgan Klimchuk has been a really good National Hockey League prospect since
the moment he was drafted, he simply fell victim to the impressive influx of
depth the Flames have amassed over the past few years and, in combination with
the fact he isn’t the type of prospect that demands attention with his play, he
became the forgotten man.

Morgan
Klimchuk is the Swiss Army Knife you get on Christmas and get excited about how
useful it will be for about 10 seconds, until you unwrap your other presents
and find you also got an iBennett and Monahan 360. You forget all about that knife
until you find it again a few years later and finally appreciate its tremendous
value to you.

The Calgary
Flames – or at least its fans – will soon rediscover the Swiss Army Knife that
is Morgan Klimchuk – if they haven’t already – and will finally begin to
appreciate what he really is as a hockey player.

Morgan
Klimchuk is FlamesNation’s 5th ranked prospect in 2015. And he
deserves to be.  

  • The GREAT Walter White

    So he is not even an “A” prospect?

    Rather disappointing for a first round pick.

    I would not be surprised if he is part of the package we put together for a top 6 forward…..

    WW

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Yeah right, and Sam Reinhart is not even an A prospect. I would not be surprised if he is part of the package Buffalo puts together for a top 6 forward…

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Did you read this part?

        “From discussions with MoneyPuck, prospects with a PSC% of over 50 will be labeled elite, over 30 are ‘A’ prospects, over 10 are ‘B’ and everyone under is a ‘C’ prospect, according to PSC.

        Morgan Klimchuk, has an amalgamated 23.61 PSC% between his two stretches of games in Regina and Brandon, meaning he’s not quite an elite prospect, but definitely a much better one than people seem to give him credit for.”

        WW

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Walter, Walter, Wally…

      We get it. You don’t think much of the Flames 1st round draft decisions…

      We will have to agree to disagree.

      I think you are wrong on Mason Macdonald and I think you are also going to be wrong here.

      Trading an asset like Klimchuk before you have even had the opportunity to see his talents in action at the pro level would be a huge waste (at minimum) and potentially a disaster if he is able to translate his junior work ethic and success to the pro level.

      I do not want to put any undue expectations on him, but he looks to me exactly like the type of player you see championship caliber teams cultivate… A guy that quietly makes other players better, plays a sound defensive game, and will be dangerous given any small window of opportunity.

      Once more the “grating” Walter White wants to make the rest of us believe he knows better than the Flames scouting staff what makes an NHL prospect.

      I’m not buying it, Sorry, Walter.

      • Parallex

        “Once more the “grating” Walter White wants to make the rest of us believe he knows better than the Flames scouting staff what makes an NHL prospect.”

        Not for nothing but I really hate that to common reasoning… what, no one can say anything unless someone employed by the Flames (or other NHL franchise) also says it? If that were acually applied no one could talk about anything Flames related ever (without basically being just an arm of the Flames PR department). That’s no fun at all.

        Besides which it’s an argument from authority and it leads to a logical fallacy. Sorry, it’s just a pet peeeve of mine (someone using an appeal to authority as a rhetorical device).

        • Reidja

          The statement is question wasn’t in deference to authority but rather to professional hockey scouts – knowledge and experience. It was given in the context of someone criticizing an player he may not have a lot of experience viewing and certainly doesn’t hold a prescient ability to project the potential of. Furthermore it comes from a poster who under appreciates Michael Backlund.

          Although deference to authority is a hallmark of the weak minded, it’s not what happened here. If the Flames didn’t want Klimchcuk around, he wouldn’t be here.

        • First of all, before I respond to the above, have to say that I generally respect your offerings to the board and your feedback to the various articles in general.

          However, although I apparently tweaked a pet peeve, what you are suggesting that I said is not at all what I actually said.

          I never suggested that Walter (or anyone else)should not be allowed to give his/her opinion. (Not that anyone would ever care whether or not I did or didn’t).

          Nowhere in my statement did I even suggest that you had to be a part of, or in agreement with, the Flames organization, in order to express an opinion.

          All I said is that Walter wants us all to believe he knows better, and I don’t even think he would disagree with that.

          “Besides which it’s an argument from authority and it leads to a logical fallacy. Sorry, it’s just a pet peeeve of mine (someone using an appeal to authority as a rhetorical device).”

          While the above certainly sounds like someone exercising his university vocabulary, you’ll have to explain both the logical fallacy (there isn’t one) and where I have “appeal(ed) to authority” before I can actually respond to that.

          Hey, if you don’t agree with my statement, God bless, and feel free to actually tell me why, but if you want to simply be pretentious then I’ll happily defend myself.

          I’m more than willing to take criticism of what I actually said, but I’m not looking for a pat on the head from either anyone in the Flames organization, or from you, and I’d appreciate you not suggesting that’s what I did.

          Personal attacks from an intellectual high horse, are one of my pet peeves.

          Cheers

          • TX Flame

            By referring to an “argument from authority” he is basically saying that your argument is “The Flames scouting staff knows more than WW and THEY disagree with him, therefore he must be wrong., rather than actually refuting WW’s position using evidence and logic to prove him wrong.

          • An appeal to authority was implied when you stated that “Walter would want us to believe he knows better than the Flames scouting staff” This is very much exactly that.

            Even if you only direct it at him personally, the implication behind those words is that the Flames scouting staff and general management are there simply because they somehow are smarter, better than, more observant, more wise about hockey than anyone else.
            This happens in science too especially in pure acedemics. it’s not an uncommon stance to say well my professor said or this really smart guy richard dawkins thinks XYZ.. so it must be true and therefore I agree with them. However, you’ll find out in science there’s a lot of bullshit and tripe written to which people respect as evidence because they’re either a. too lazy to look into things themselves and evaluate the criteria and methodology, or b. they don’t understand the experiment, c. their own bias believes it’s true so the study confirming that it’s true must also be true. This is why the scientific method clearly states that an experiment must be repeatedly observable.

            That’s exactly what this is. you’re confirming your own bias towards liking klimchuk based on the premise that Flames selected him and because they are in the business they must somehow be more knowledgeable about the subject and therefore walter is wrong.

            They probably are very knowledgeable about the subject (i’m not suggesting they’re not). There’s no question that they would have to be. However, it doesn’t mean if you look at things from an objective stance like Kent or as Christian did here that you can’t come to a logical conclusion that might disagree with the scouts/flames gm’s etc.

            Take for instance as Christian mentioned earlier Greg Nemiz. He was drafted by Flames scouts once too they obviously thought he had potential… turns out they weren’t so smart on that decision and if they listened to Kent back then they’d have known it.

            Even though I still find old Wally over there to be a big FN Troll 😛

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Pay Attention Walter, the article also notes that using PSC% not even #2 Overall Sam Reinhart is an “A” prospect. I don’t see him being traded unless he is the prospect going with Bollig and either Engelland/Smid for a salary dump.

    • BurningSensation

      Have to agree with you. Players who don’t do something great in junior or have a lot of size, very rarely contribute at the NHL level. He doesn’t do anything great and is not very big or strong. I hope I’m wrong but I’ve never been a fan of this pick and think he is rated way too high in this list.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Did you know McDavid’s PCS doesn’t even have him as a B prospect? His PCS is 0%. Now, before you jump on me for comparing Klimchuk to McDavid, that’s not what I’m doing. My point is that PCS can be deceiving.

  • Parallex

    My gut tells me he’ll be like Lee Stempniak in the NHL. You know… an underappreciated 3rd line guy that manages to pot 15-20 per season and move the puck in the right direction.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    This young man has demonstrated a great deal of perseverance since being drafted, having dealt with a couple of nagging-type injuries, not the least of which was a shoulder and an abdominal strain.

    He was highly sought after by a team seeking a championship, someone who plays well in both ends of the rink. In my opinion, that’s what the Flames saw, have and covet.

    I would strongly suggest he will not return to the ‘Dub for an overage season but will turn pro. Prediction is that he will become a valued member of the Heat for the season and be a contender for a Flame roster spot in 2016-17.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    Great article.

    Maybe you can convince Kent of his value as in reading Kents mailbag the other day it doesnt seem as if he shares your enthusiasm for Klimchuk.

  • Slowmo

    The chuck will become a Poirier type player he is healthy and will play over age only because there is no room for him on either team right now and there not throwing him to the ECHL.

  • Slowmo

    He’s basically been described as a genius in terms of positioning and defensive play in all three zones. Above average speed, great release with deadly accuracy in close, underrated passer, major part of his team’s offense. I see him as a more offensive Frolik. At worst he’s an elite 3rd liner.

    • Slowmo

      Well said. There’s a reason he is ranked #5 & to me, he has all the potential to be as exciting of a prospect as Porier. I think he will finally get a lot of eyes on him this year in the AHL. Here’s to a fantastic pro start for Morgan!

  • Derzie

    Do a PSC on draft year Datysuk, Benn, Gaudreau, Daigle, Fata. If the numbers predict what happened to some degree, we can use PSC. If not, back to the drawing board.Although some of these guys do not have 200 games but you get the idea.