Mature Klimchuk taking steps in stride
CALGARY, AB -- Morgan Klimchuk is wise beyond his 19 years.
The Calgary Flames prospect is smart enough to know that he shouldn’t be looking too far into the future nor into the past.
It’s best the Regina Pats standout take things as they come.
“You take it day-by-day,” Klimchuk said. “There’s so much going on and so many things come up and I’m sure things will come up at that time. You’ve got to take it in stride. If you look too far ahead you’ll kind of get overwhelmed. There are a lot of people to talk to and a lot of things to go through in that time so I’m going to take it all day-by-day.”
There’s no summer vacation on the horizon for the former first round pick plucked 28th overall in 2013.
He’s currently attending Flames development camp. From there, he’ll be one of 41 players participating in Hockey Canada’s national junior development camp next month. Following that, Klimchuk is expected to represent Calgary at the YoungStars Classic tournament that will feature the top prospects from the Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. That will lead right into training camp.
And each step will all be under the watchful eye of a Flames management staff that wasn’t in place when he was drafted a year ago.
Not that that’s something new for Klimchuk.
“I’ve kind of gone through it a couple of times,” he said. “I went through it in the (WHL) Bantam Draft. I lost my coaches and just lost them again. It’s part of the business. It’s one of the things you deal with. I hope I can make a good impression.
“It doesn’t matter who is coaching me or who is managing me.”
Despite entering this year’s development camp with the new eyes of director of hockey operations Brian Burke, general manager Brad Treliving and assistant GM Brad Pascall -- all hired since he was drafted a calendar year ago -- there is an added sense of comfort in Klimchuk’s second summer with the Flames.
“For me, I wasn’t nearly as nervous this year as I was last year,” he said. “I kind of know what to expect now. I’ve met with all the staff and have played in front of them a couple of times. I wasn’t nearly as nervous [Saturday] as I was last year.”
That calmness comes with maturity.
After all, there’s little that can be tossed Klimchuk’s way that could throw the 19-year-old off after his 2013-14 campaign. Injuries forced the Calgary, AB native from action each time it seemed the Pats' assistant captain stepped up.
The first caused Klimchuk to miss his first pro camp in September. Another might have cost him an opportunity to represent Canada at the World Junior Championship.
“Getting hurt in junior camp and not being able to play in my first pro camp was a pretty big blow but like the coaching, like the management, its just part of the game and something you have to deal with,” Klimchuk said. “I had a good start to the season and went to the Super Series and was playing real well and I thought I played real well at the Super Series and my last shift there I managed to get hurt again.
“It was just kind of the story of my year. When I was playing, I was playing well but I only got into 57 games.”
For every downturn in his season there was upside, though.
Despite playing a career-low 57 games, Klimchuk managed to hit the 30-goal and 70-point plateau for the second time in his Western Hockey League career.
He also netted a pro contract before the New Year, while Regina finished the season with an East Division title.
“Getting drafted last summer was huge and actually joining the organization officially by signing a contract was another big step,” Klimchuk said. “That’s got to be one of the biggest highlights of the year. Winning a pennant was another big one. We’re the third team in 33 years from the Pats to do that. It’s an honour.
“We weren’t really expected to so it was big, not only for myself but for the team as well.”
Expectations are heightened all around this summer, and it starts with Calgary’s development camp this week.
Though Klimchuk is smart enough to know it’s the start, not the end.
“Camps like this, they say you can’t make the team or lose your spot on the team, but you can definitely make an impression, both good and bad,” he said. “I’m trying to work hard and set the bar high.
“And show them what I can do.”