The Regina Pats finished the 2012-13 WHL season with a dismal 59 points which placed them second to last in the Eastern Conference. For a franchise with such a storied history the bright spots were hard to come by this past year in the Queen City.
It was not that long ago when Jordan Eberle was the talk of the town. In the 2007-08 season, the Pats finished first in the east division and secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Eberle had remarkable campaign with a team-high 42 goals and 75 points. His 42 goals accounted for one-fifth of his team’s scoring and marked the first time a Pats player hit the forty-goal mark since Matt Hubbauer scored 48 in 2001–02. He also tied for fourth in league scoring with Drayson Bowman of the Spokane Chiefs. However, the Pats were bounced from the playoffs in 6 games by the underdog Swift Current Broncos. For the next five years, the Pats would only make the playoffs once, that being in the 2011-12 season.
There was a lone bright spot for the Pats faithful this year and his name is Morgan Klimchuk. Klimchuk, who plays left wing, put up solid numbers offensively scoring 36 goals, dishing out 40 assists for 76 points in 72 games for an offensively challenged squad. Klimchuk started off the year winning gold for Team Canada at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
In April, Klimchuk was a key member of a loaded Team Canada squad at the IIHF World Under 18 tourney that won gold for the first time since 2008. Klimchuk displayed in this tournament why he should be a first round pick in my opinion He played on Canada’s top line with potential 2014 #1 overall pick Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice (WHL) and the surefire #1 overall pick for 2015 in Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters. In 7 games, Klimchuk scored 3 goals, 5 assists, for 8 points. For the record, NHL teams should be lining up for Connor McDavid who had 8 goals, and 6 assists for 14 points in 7 tournament games as a 16 year-old.
Back to Klimchuk.
This kid is flat out underrated and does not get the attention he deserves because he his stuck in the wheat fields of Saskatchewan. He’s pure sniper with a gifted wrist shot and a solid one-timer. Quickest release hands down of any draft eligible forward I’ve seen for this draft. He possesses good hockey sense and is playmaker. Unlike some players in this draft who are one trick ponies, Klimchuk can win board battles, protects the puck well, and is excellent on the cycle despite his rather small size at 5’11 175 pounds.
He’s a very agile player and I’ve noticed that he picks up speed well through the neutral zone once he gets going. He ran Regina’s powerplay this past season and he even saw time from the backend on the powerplay. He is also committed defensively.
He does remind me a little bit of the aforementioned Jordan Eberle, given he’s a pure natural goal scorer. Eberle is much quicker than Klimchuk, but Klimchuk just has something about him that I like. Maybe it’s the fact that nobody is talking about him or that he’s a kid who has an innate ability to put the puck in the net. One thing I know is he’s going to go higher than most people expect. His skill set is elite. Klimchuk has the ability to be a game changer at the next level due to his goal scoring prowess.
Klimchuk was born in Regina, but moved to Calgary when he was just four days old. Growing up he admired the Calgary Flames and he would be an excellent choice for the Flames since they have two late first round picks at 22 and 28. I’m sure he would love the chance to be a piece in his hometown team’s rebuild. Teams will be shaking their heads for years to come asking themselves why did we pass on that Klimchuk kid from Regina.
He’s that good folks.