Canucks on the Farm: Klimovich Making Early Noise in First AHL Season

After dominating the 2021 U18 World Championship with six goals in five games, Danila Klimovich rocketed up draft boards everywhere and eventually became a 2021 second-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks. Ranked somewhere in the third and fourth rounds by many outlets, the word “reach” was uttered more than once when he was selected 41st overall. Now playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Abbotsford Canucks at 18 years old, he is proving to everyone why he was drafted so high.

Klimovich Impresses at Canucks Training Camp

The minute Klimovich stepped onto the ice at Canucks training camp, fans and media in attendance knew he was going to be something special. Three things stood out almost immediately, his hard laser-like shot, his creativity, and finally his NHL-level puck control. He also showed tremendous confidence over the three days, which was good to see considering it was his first time on North American ice.

Related: Vancouver Canucks Top-10 Prospects Heading Into the 2021-22 Season

If not for a minor injury, Klimovich might have had a chance at making the Canucks opening night roster. He developed a good relationship with fellow rookie Vasily Podkolzin and sophomore Nils Hoglander and seems to be adjusting well to North American culture so far. All in all, he was probably the biggest surprise of camp and is now one of their top prospects. Once Podkolzin and Jack Rathbone play 20 games, he might even take over the number-one spot before too long. Pretty good for a “reach” at 41st overall, wouldn’t you say?

Klimovich Sent to the AHL Instead of the QMJHL

Drafted 29th overall by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the 2020 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft, there was speculation that Klimovich was going to start his 2021-22 season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) instead of the AHL. His strong training camp and pro-ready game made the decision to send him to Abbotsford pretty easy.

We’ll see how it goes down there for him but for a young kid, I thought he had a pretty good camp…It’s not always that you see a younger kid like that go down to the AHL but just out of what I’ve seen so far, I think he has a chance to play there this year and hopefully that fast-tracks him.

Head coach Travis Green on Klimovich’s camp

Despite his young age and inexperience, the Canucks thought he was ready for the pro game. As everyone found out on the weekend, it didn’t take long for Klimovich to prove to everyone just how ready he was.

Klimovich Begins His AHL Career in Abbotsford With a Bang

Only 28:09 into the Abbotsford Canucks’ inaugural season, Klimovich was celebrating his first goal in the AHL. As one of the youngest players in the league, no less. The Canucks didn’t end up winning the game, but he showed everyone that he was ready to be a difference-maker for his new team.

The next game was even better as Klimovich was elevated to a line with Carson Focht and ended up scoring again, this time using his wicked wrist shot on the power play. He also tried to execute a between-the-legs shot only two games into his pro career. That’s confidence right there. If he’s already trying those things a couple of games in, just imagine what he could do with 30 or 40 games under his belt. His opponents better look out, that’s all I have to say.

Klimovich Adjusting Well to North America

For a player just starting his life in North America, Klimovich appears to be adjusting to his new surroundings quite well. The Canucks have given him a lot of support in the form of AHL veteran John Stevens, who has been his roommate on the road. He also wants to fit into the culture and develop into an NHL player, which is half the battle right there. There have been many Russians/Belarussians in the past that haven’t wanted to adjust and in the end just bolt back to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) to resume their career back home.

Imagine, an 18-year-old in this situation, just been drafted, coming to North America, language challenge, food is different — everything — and he’s just jumped right in with two feet.

Abbotsford Canucks GM Ryan Johnson on Klimovich adjusting to life in North America

Klimovich signed his entry-level contract almost immediately after he was drafted, which was already a good indication of his intentions to do whatever it took to make it. The fact that he came over and worked hard to impress the coaching staff spoke volumes. Once he cleans up his two-way game, the NHL better look out because he will end up scoring 30 goals in his prime.

Abbotsford Canucks News & Notes

  • BC-born Jarid Lukosevicius scored the franchise’s first-ever goal on Saturday. He was signed by the Abbotsford Canucks to a one-year deal in the offseason.

Related: Canucks on the Farm: Homegrown Talent a Focus This Offseason

Jarid Lukosevicius, Grand Rapids Griffins
Jarid Lukosevicius, seen here with the Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)
  • Arturs Silovs recorded the team’s inaugural win on Sunday with 34 saves in regulation and four-straight stops in the shootout on Tyler Madden, Samuel Fagemo, Alex Turcotte and Martin Frk. He will likely split the net with Mike DiPietro if he continues that type of performance in the future.
  • After the 4-3 overtime loss to the Ontario Reign, the Canucks’ record now stands at an even 1-1-1. Their leading point-getter so far is a three-headed monster of Justin Bailey, Cameron Schilling and Sheldon Rempal. Klimovich continues to be their leading goal-scorer with two goals in three games. His goal-scoring streak was snapped on Tuesday.
  • Travis Hamonic was not listed on the opening-night roster, and was recently granted a leave of absence by the Vancouver Canucks. It’s still unclear when he will return to the team, if at all.

The Week That Was

  • Oct. 16 vs. Bakersfield Condors, 5-3 loss
  • Oct. 17 vs. Ontario Reign, 3-2 shootout win
  • Oct. 19 vs. Ontario Reign, 4-3 overtime loss

Next Up

  • Oct. 22 vs. Henderson Silver Knights (home opener and first game at Abbotsford Centre)
  • Oct. 24 vs. Henderson Silver Knights