© — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Carl Klingerg tries to deflect a shot past Malcolm Subban during an AHL game earlier this season at Mile One Centre. The Swedish winger came close to his first NHL start of the season on Monday as the Winnipeg Jets took on the Dallas Stars, only to be re-assigned before puck drop.
IceCaps forward yet to play with Winnipeg this year, but steady improvement in AHL has NHL brass paying attention
It might seem that all Carl Klingberg has to show for a couple of call-ups to the Winnipeg Jets this season are a few days of National Hockey League pay and some added airline miles.
However, St. John’s IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge says Klingberg also gained something else — recognition that within the Jets’ organization, he remains an NHL prospect.
Klingberg flew into Syracuse, N.Y., Tuesday evening from Dallas to rejoin the IceCaps after spending a day with the Jets. He had been called up Monday as Winnipeg prepared for a game that night with the Dallas Stars knowing captain Andrew Ladd was unavailable (he remained in Winnipeg to be with his wife after the birth of their second child) and with some question about the game-readiness of Dustin Byfuglien, who was suffering from an unspecified injury/ailment. Klingberg got to Texas in time for the morning skate Monday, but as soon as Byfuglien was found to be good to go, he was officially returned to St. John’s as the emergency conditions that led to his recall had ended.
It marked the second time this season Klingberg had been called up only too see no more action than a game-day skate. The other occasion was in mid-January, when he flew from St. John’s to Calgary and back within a 24-hour period.
“Regardless of whether he’s played a game for Winnipeg this season, the fact that he has been called up twice shows that the organization sees him as someone capable of playing in the NHL,” said McCambridge.
“The reason he’s the one who was recalled is because how he is performed for us this season, and that’s a credit to him.”
The 23-year-old Klingberg is in the final year of his three-year entry-level deal with the Jets. After a solid rookie season with St. John’s in 2011-12, when he had 15 goals and 37 points, and got into six games with Winnipeg, the young winger plateaued in his sophomore AHL season, with just 11 goals and 12 assists and a minus-six rating.
Klingberg also had a slow start to the present campaign, with just goal and an assist in his first eight games. By the second week of November, he found himself a healthy scratch for a few contests.
But after he got back into the St. John’s lineup, Klingberg showed steady improvement along with notable resolve and now has 19 goals, 17 assist and a plus-12 rating through 57 games.
It’s been the last month-and-a-half that really stands out on his season’s record. In his last 16 outings with the IceCaps, Klingberg is averaging better than a point a game ,with seven goals and 10 assists, while putting up a plus-12 rating.
Coincidentally, St. John’s, which take on the Syracuse Crunch tonight (8:30 p.m. NT), has gone 13-2-1 over those 16 games.
“For me, what I’ve seen with Carl Klingberg this season is part of the development you see with young players, and he is still a young player, a key player,” said McCambridge, whose IceCaps (41-20-4) enter tonight’s game with the fourth-best record in the AHL.
Timothy Bonnar, writing on the website arcticeicehockey.com this week, made an interesting note about Klingberg in that the Swede not only leads the IceCaps with 18 even-strength goals, but is fourth overall in that category among all AHL players.
It’s an important stat, according to McCambridge.
“We always keep track of who is getting five-on-five goals, not just on our team but on the opposition as well. It’s important to know which players are performing in those situations,” said the St. John’s coach.
See GAME-WORN, page C2
“Of course, we also want to know who’s getting power-play goals, but not every player sees time on the power play. Carl Klingberg has been off and on our power play this season, but obviously, he’s been very effective five-on-five. We certainly take notice of that and I’m sure other teams do as well.”
The IceCaps are auctioning off 17 of the white and green St. Paddy’s Day jerseys that they had for two home games versus the Portland Pirates earlier this month. Fifteen of the jerseys were game-worn, while two — those of Kael Mouillierat and Kris Fredheim — were game-ready, but not used as both players were injured.
The 15 game-used jerseys are those of Blair Riley, Ryan Schnell, Adam Lowry, Tyler Beskorowany. Kyle MacKinnon, Ben Chiarot, Austen Brassard, JC Lipon, Josh Lunden, Jamie MacQueen, Zach Redmond, Jordan Hill, Julian Melchiori, Brenden Kichton and Jerome Samson. To make a bid, go online to http://www.ebay.ca/usr/st.johnsicecapshockeyclub