When the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta, there was much talk about how the prospect cupboards were bare. While it is true that the system lacked depth, there were a few interesting pieces in play and Carl Klingberg was considered by many to be the crown jewel of the prospect pool.
Klingberg's was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NHL Draft (same year as Evander Kane) after a solid showing in the World Junior Championships and across multiple Swedish leagues. Klingberg is a hulking 6'3 and can skate like the wind. Scouts loved his offensive tool box, but this was based on potential more so than actual production.
Klingberg's first full pro season in North America coincided with the team's move to Winnipeg and he started off with a bang, picking up six goals in his first six games as well as 16 points in his opening 20. His hot start earned him a call up and he dressed six times for the Jets in December of 2011. Since then, things haven't gone great for Mr. Klingberg and he had nearly fallen off the prospect map.
Klingberg's scoring dried up and he found himself scratched multiple times. He also witnessed multiple players pass him for call ups. Klingberg entered this season in the final year of his three year Entry Level Contract and there was some debate about whether or not he would warrant another deal.
Even this season started with a bit of a bumpy road. Klingberg had to work his way out of the dog house and up the depth chart and he has done just that. Klingberg has worked his way back up the depth chart. He has earned an increased role and earned a call up for the first time in a long while.
Perhaps it was an acceptance of his role.
The following is a scouting report for Carl Klingberg from 2009:
An extremely hardworking player with top notch skating skills. Klingberg has very good size and accelerates incredibly well. He likes to drive to the net and although technical skills and hockey sense are slightly above average, at best, he creates a lof of scoring chances simply by using his quick feet.
Furthermore, Klingberg forechecks with great intensity and is a pain in the butt to face with his aggressive and physical play. He has good timing in his hits and takes good care of his responsibilities in all three zones. Could develop into a decent scoring forward, but is perhaps more likely to become an excellent role and checking line player.
Over the last couple seasons there has been talk from scouts and the IceCaps coaching staff alike that Klingberg was trying to play too much of a finesse game. As detailed in the above scouting report, his game is supposed to be predicated on physical play a mucking things up in the corners. That area of his game lacked consistency and the lack of consistency landed him in the dog house.
The latter half of this season has been different. Klingberg has been playing the game the coaches want him to play and it is paying big dividends. Across his last 38 games played Klingberg has scored 15 goals added 13 assists for 28 points. He has averaged 2.84 shots on goal per game over that stretch as well (108 total).
Incredibly almost all of that offense has come at even strength. Klingberg has 19 goals on the season and 18 of them have come at even strength. His first poweplay goal came yesterday (Sunday, March 23rd). Only three AHL players have scored more at even strength (Ty Rattie, Travis Morin and Teemu Pulkkinen) this season. Klingberg is also on pace to top his previous season high point totals.
The Winnipeg Jets have a decision to make with Carl. Klingberg is up for a new contract and he will be waiver eligible next year. Can he take advantage of the call up and show the team he deserves another solid look? Ice time isn't guaranteed, but a year ago it looked like his time as a Jet was winding down. Only time will tell what comes next, but there is no doubt a strong showing down the stretch will give Kevin Cheveldayoff something to think about.
Carl Klingberg is a fun Twitter follow, follow him here: @CarlKlingberg