Morgan Klimchuk, seen here training at CAA's prospect camp in L.A., expects to be Regina's go-to guy in 2012-13. (photo by Matt Brown)
Summer means camp and that goes for hockey’s juniors, too. Team USA is holding its world junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., right now, with Sweden and Finland coming in to help out as competition. Meanwhile, Canada’s Ivan Hlinka team is set after examinations of that grouping and the Canada-Russia challenge is about to pop off. Let’s round up some prominent names in the prospect world right now, shall we?
Morgan Klimchuk, C – Regina Pats (WHL)
Canada will once again bring a dynamic offensive attack to the Ivan Hlinka tourney in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and Klimchuk will be one of those weapons. As a rookie with the Pats, the Calgary native tallied 18 goals and 36 points in 67 games, good for fifth on the squad. Now it’s time to kick it up another notch in the Western League.
“I want to produce any way I can, get on special teams, start reassuring those parts of your game that you might not get a chance to do as a rookie,” Klimchuk said. “I’m looking forward to stepping into those roles and being an impact player.”
Scouts have always been high on Klimchuk, who brings quickness to many facets of his game, but also prides himself on his ability to see plays others may not. Back in Calgary, the youngster has seen more than his share of pros at Crash Conditioning, where he has trained.
“I’ve worked out alongside Jordan Eberle, Zach Boychuk, Thomas Hickey and Mike Green in Calgary,” he said. “It’s beneficial to see how hard they work.”
With the Pats finally putting together a solid season in 2011-12, the emphasis for the next campaign is continued improvement, especially since archrival Saskatoon will be loading up as Memorial Cup host.
“I’ve got big expectations for this year,” Klimchuk said. “We made our first playoff run in a couple seasons last year, which was big for the team – we needed that. But now it’s beyond just making the playoffs. We want to do something big.”
No doubt Klimchuk will be front and center in that effort. Draft eligible in 2013.
Sean Kuraly, C – Indiana Ice (USHL)
The leading scorer so far at Team USA’s WJC camp, Kuraly has racked up six points through three games after a stellar campaign in Indiana saw him quadruple his goal output to 32 from eight the previous season. Defensively conscious, the Miami University commit kills penalties too, so the recent offense is making him scary. Drafted 133rd overall by San Jose in 2011.
Shea Theodore, D – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
The combination of two famous NHL names will get a chance to put his own stamp on the game as a member of Canada’s Ivan Hlinka team. Theodore scored in all three scrimmages at camp, netting the game-winner for Team Red in the finale. The B.C. native was a premier set-up man for the T-Birds, finishing first in assists with 31 and third in team scoring with 35 points in 69 games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Zachary Fucale, G – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Fucale will form a formidable tandem with Tri-City’s Eric Comrie in Canada’s net at the Ivan Hlinka and you can look for the Mooseheads keeper to play in a lot of meaningful games next season. Fucale is coming off a 32-win campaign as a rookie with The Herd, which he helped to a surprise playoff run. Alongside forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, Fucale could be the third first-rounder taken on the team next summer. Draft eligible in 2013.
Linus Arnesson, D – Djurgarden (Swe.)
Sweden will come in to the world juniors as the defending champ and won’t have a lot of underagers on the roster, but Arnesson warranted enough of a look on the team that headed to Lake Placid. Coming in at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, he’s a solid blueliner and a late birthday who has already played against men back home. Draft eligible in 2013.
Juuso Ikonen, LW – Espoo Blues (Fin.)
Undersized but offensively potent, the 5-foot-7 Ikonen popped in two goals in a losing cause for Finland in the team’s opening camp in Lake Placid. Back home with Espoo, he dominated the junior ranks with 20 goals and 41 points in 32 games before playing up in the men’s premier circuit and still contributing to the score sheet consistently. Draft eligible in 2013.
Darnell Nurse, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
The son of a former CFL wide receiver, Nurse naturally has great size and athleticism, but most importantly his skating was good enough to partner up with Matt Dumba at the under-18s. Now Nurse is donning the maple leaf again for the Ivan Hlinka, where his imposing 6-foot-4, 180 pound frame and snarl will keep opponents on their toes – and out of the crease area. Draft eligible in 2013.
Pontus Aberg, LW – Djurgarden (Swe.)
After the disappointment of missing out on world junior gold due to injury, Aberg also had to deal with slipping out of the first round of the draft. But the latter isn’t affecting his summer play in Lake Placid. The shoot-first speedster had a goal and an assist in Sweden’s opening 5-1 win over Team USA White. Drafted 37th overall by Nashville in 2012.
Mario Lucia, LW – Penticton Vees (BCHL)
After a stunning run with the Vees out west in Jr. A play, Lucia will begin his college career this fall at Notre Dame, where the Fighting Irish can use his scoring punch. That much was on full display in Lake Placid, where Lucia put up a hat trick and the game-winner against Finland for USA’s Team Blue. Drafted 60th overall by Minnesota in 2011.
Bo Horvat, C – London Knights (OHL)
Horvat and Max Domi represent an excellent 1-2 draft eligible punch in London, where both youngsters played above their age en route to an Ontario League title last season. The pair will also loom large at the Ivan Hlinka for Canada and Horvat brings a stocky frame (six-foot, nearly 200 pounds already) to the table. Horvat’s playoff run was even more impressive because he got the call over older players when the stakes were high. Draft eligible in 2013.
The Hot List, a roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re excited to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday only on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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