Flames prospect Klimchuk fit as a fiddle and aiming to take the next step in his hockey career
Calgarian broke the Regina Pats’ VO2 record as he heads into Flames’ rookie showcase
Sure, he was making his fourth trip to the Regina Pats’ training camp.
Yeah, he’d been a first-round pick at the National Hockey League’s most recent draft.
But mail it in?
Far from it.
Morgan Klimchuk absolutely aced his junior squad’s fitness testing last week. For good measure, the Calgarian shattered the Pats’ record in the VO2 category.
“Being one of the older guys now — a veteran presence on the team — you want to set the bar high and make sure you establish the work ethic that’s going to be required all year,” said the 18-year-old. “Going into camp, I knew there would be some eyes on me. I just wanted to make sure I showed up in my best shape.
“I thought it went well. I take my fitness pretty seriously . . . and when I got those results it was something I kind of expected.”
Of course, Klimchuk has even grander plans in mind.
The left-winger intends to flaunt his fine-tuned conditioning and upgraded chassis — now six feet and 185 pounds — this week during the Flames’ rookie showcase.
“I was pretty motivated, pretty focused, this summer coming into my first pro camp,” said Klimchuk, selected 28th overall — as part of the return from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Jarome Iginla swap — this past June in New Jersey. “I want to prove that I can play against these players at this level — at their size, at their speed. Just show that I worked hard this summer and came to camp ready to play and to start this season off on a good note.”
Additionally, Klimchuk insists he’s over Hockey Canada’s summertime snub.
Despite having played a prominent role in back-to-back gold-medal performances at the world under-18 championship, he was not invited to the junior side’s tryouts in August.
“Obviously, I would have loved to be there — it did sting a bit,” said Klimchuk, who, in 72 dates with the Pats last winter, produced 36 goals. “It’s some good motivation going forward. Hopefully, I can stay on their radar.”
He knows a stellar start to the Western Hockey League season may be enough to ram his way back into Hockey Canada’s good graces.
“You never want to count yourself out. I want to be playing my best hockey and winning games for the Regina Pats and playing well for myself. Obviously, I’d love to play for my country again.”
But first things first — the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C.
Thursday, the Flames’ rookies meet their Edmonton Oilers counterparts.
“I want to go into these games and contribute on both sides of the puck,” said Klimchuk. “Whenever you can play in game situations, play against people that you’ve played with, competed with, competed against, it’s a great feeling, for sure. But putting the Flames jersey on and representing the organization against another organization will be one of the focal points in my mind, something that I’m really looking forward to.”
Not surprisingly, he’s also looking forward to generating offence.
“I always have high expectations for myself, no matter where I’m playing, no matter what I’m doing. If I could score, even one goal, in that tournament, it would be a good start.”
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