Carl Klingberg is a load – 6’3” 205 and only 20 years old. Scouts love numbers like that when you combine them with skill. Factor in that he has 21 points in 24 games in the AHL so far this season and now you have something to work with. Fortunately for Winnipeg they already have Blake Wheeler on the pro roster so they can move slow with Klingberg which is good news considering the numbers he posted in his recent call up. That being said this is Klingberg’s first pro season in North America after last season abbreviated run with Chicago in the AHL for only 8 games and making his NHL debut in what would be the Thrashers last ever game vs. Pittsburgh on April 10, 2011.
Klingberg has represented Sweden three times internationally, once in the U18’s and twice in the WJC. Last year in Buffalo Klingberg scored 3 goals and added 1 assist in 6 games where Sweden finished 4th, losing the bronze medal game to the host USA team. The highlight of the tournament for Sweden was beating Canada in a shoot out on New Year’s Eve, which is one of the most anticipated games of the round robin portion. It was also Klingberg’s best game of the tournament, scoring two goals to lead his team. No doubt his size helped him against a more physical team and a smaller ice surface than his team was used to.
Klingberg was drafted in the 2009 entry draft in the second round by Atlanta, 34th overall. That was the year that they selected Evander Kane 4th overall so if Klingberg manages to become an impact player, that draft will get a good grade even if no other player emerges. Other notable players picked around Klingberg were Carter Ashton who was selected 29th overall; Landon Ferraro at 32; Ryan O’Reilly at 33 who in now in his 3rd season in the NHL; and fellow Swede Anton Lander at 40 who made the NHL this season but has enjoyed minimal success so far. In fact, there were 12 Swedes taken in the first two rounds, which equates to an excellent draft class for that country.
Klingberg has become an impact AHL player in his rookie year on a team that is currently challenging for first in its division. That is no small feat for the player and the team considering all the change this summer that the organization enjoyed at every level. In fact, the St. John’s IceCaps have the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, which is a remarkable achievement at the midway point of the season. Klingberg currently sits tied for 11th in rookie scoring but has played fewer games than any player ahead of him because of the NHL time he spent in Winnipeg.
Brian Rogers who is the voice of the IceCaps in St. John’s was on the Pipeline Show on November 22nd and offered this regarding Klingberg:
“He’s got NHL stamped in his future but it may take a year. I like the way he plays without the puck; he’s hard on the back check, good on the fore check. He has good hands, will take a hit to make the play, he uses his size well.”
(Courtesy of thepipelineshow.com)
Prior to being drafted in 2009, the NHL European Scouting Service had this to say about Klingberg:
“He has explosive acceleration and is strong on his skates – he is hard to hold off when he’s driving the net. He works hard down low in the zone and is courageous enough to go into tight battles.”
The Sports Forecaster in July 2011 rated him a “Sure-Fire NHLer” and offered this profile:
“With versatility on the wing, good NHL size and sound hockey sense, Klingberg can become a solid two-way hockey player at the highest level.”
Carl Klingberg is without a doubt the top winger in the Jets organization who is not in the NHL. There is no need to rush him because they already have duplicated skill set on the parent team and recently added more with the arrival of Antti Miettinen of waivers (which actually precipitated the move to send Klingberg back to the minors) and the summer addition of Eric Fehr from Washington. Winnipeg already has the luxury of several large wingers who play a two-way game and Klingberg when ready fits that description perfectly. The one weakness they do have is a lack of snipers once you exclude Kane. Klingberg is not going to erase that issue. Expect him to be a full time player by the beginning of next season or at the latest, the All-Star break