Danila Klimovich’s year of development, Arturs Silovs earning starts, and what to expect from the Abbotsford Canucks: A conversation with AHL head coach Jeremy Colliton
Photo credit:James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber1 year ago
The Abbotsford Canucks held a four-day training camp out at the beautiful Port Coquitlam Community Centre this past week. The camp concluded with a four-on-four and three-on-three scrimmage on Saturday night.
With the roster that the Abby Canucks are bolstering, there should once again be high expectations for the AHL team to compete to be one of the top teams in the AHL. Returning veterans like Noah Juulsen, Guillaume Brisebois, Justin Dowling, Vincent Arseneau, Sheldon Dries, Will Lockwood, and John Stevens will provide that leadership that an AHL team needs but we will also see some returning AHLers like Tristen Nielsen, Chase Wouters, and Jett Woo who will be asked to bring more to this team this season.
On top of that, top prospects Danila Klimovich and Arturs Silovs will be two players that we will be keeping a close eye on and expecting more from in a year where they are expected to be big pieces of this team.
We caught up with new AHL coach Jeremy Colliton to chat about some of the stories that are to come out of Abbotsford this season.
“I think we got a lot accomplished,” said Colliton when recapping the week out in PoCo. “It’s a bit of a continuation of Vancouver. We had this group there for a bunch of days as well. So it’s trying to build on that and recognizing that there are only so many days left before we get going for real. We wanted to review the structure and make sure that we’re as prepared as possible.”
When you look at the current roster for the Abbotsford Canucks, there are about a half-dozen players who should see a call-up and get into NHL games at some point this season. Juulsen, Christian Wolanin, and Wyatt Kalynuk are three defencemen who can help an NHL team when an injury occurs. Lockwood, Dowling, and Dries can be players available for spot duty on an NHL fourth line as well.
But the player to really key in on is Danila Klimovich.
The 2021 second-round pick was the youngest player to play consistent games in the AHL last season.
“Of course, I was happy with it because I played with pro guys [in Canada],” said Klimovich back at development camp in Penticton when talking about his rookie season in the AHL. “[My] last year before Canada, I played junior in Belarus. It’s a big step for me.”
“It was a little bit of discomfort,” said Klimovich when asked about his first few months in Canada. “I tried to not be sad and just be positive. I tried, but sometimes it was stress[ful]. It was very, very tough. But I think I’m done with [the stress].”
This season, with a much higher level of comfort and a much better understanding of the language, expectations are more on development instead of just finding comfortability.
Colliton spoke about this season being a bigger focus on development compared to last season. We asked the coach about leaning more into coaching and developing Klimovich this season and he was keen on that being the goal for the 2022-23 season.
”It has to happen,” said Colliton. “Obviously, [Klimovich] wants to continue to develop and be an option at some point at the NHL level and that’s not just going to happen [on its own].”
“He did a lot at 18 with a new culture and a new language,” said Colliton. “He’s done a lot of the heavy lifting already but it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to just be that we snap our fingers and he’s ready to play [in the NHL]. It’s going to take time. There’s going to be ups and downs and that’s just what it’s like. When you’re a young player, it’s a man’s league. You don’t just step in and dominate, so we’ll help him through that.”
“We’re here to compete and I don’t do him any favours if I don’t hold him to the level that he’s going to need to reach to get to the NHL,” said Colliton. “It’s up to us to do that. It’s not going to always be perfect but we want him to continue to improve. Even from development camp to now I see improvement and we just got to help them keep going in that direction.”
This isn’t the first time that Colliton has worked with teenagers in a professional league.
Colliton was just 27 years old when he took over as the head coach for Mora IK in the Allsvenskan league. There aren’t a ton of top prospects in the Allsvenskan every season but he had a dozen teenagers play games for his Allsvenskan team that year and saw one of his teenagers, Pierre Engvall, go from being a seventh-round pick to an everyday NHLer.
“I’ve had young guys before when I was in Sweden,” said Colliton. “We had juniors all the time on our pro team and ultimately it’s just about making sure they understand what’s expected and what the standard is.”
The other top prospect with the Abbotsford Canucks is goaltender Arturs Silovs.
With three goaltenders on the AHL roster, there are concerns that Silovs may not get into as many games as we hope for. With Mikey DiPietro’s agent granted the ability to help facilitate a trade, the three-headed goalie monster in Abbotsford should see Silovs get a bulk of the starts, with Collin Delia seeing a lot of minutes if he plays well at the AHL level. When you look at finding a balance between winning games and developing players, Silovs seeing 30+ starts checks both boxes.
From our early viewings of Silovs this year, he has looked impressive. Colliton doesn’t want to hand starts out to Silovs but instead, see the 21-year-old netminder earn his own playing time.
”We want him to take the opportunity,” said Colliton when asked about getting Silovs into a lot of games this season. “We want him to force us to play him. You get what you earn, and certainly, everyone feels that he can be a big help this year and we feel strongly that he’s a great prospect. So far, I’ve seen an excellent work ethic and determination to get better. And so usually, results follow from that.”
As for the three-goalie situation in Abbotsford. It’s a bit out of Colliton’s control. An AHL coach just deals with what he is given, and right now, he has been given three goalies.
One exciting prospect in Silovs, one veteran in Delia, and one goalie who still shows promise but may not see that promise come to fruition with the Canucks in DiPietro.
Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin is the one who makes trades for this organization, and for now, DiPietro is with Abbotsford and likely wants to show that he can win games in the AHL, even if a new destination is likely on the horizon.
“Well, it’ll play out, things will sort out,” said Colliton when asked about having three goalies on his roster. “I don’t have a timeline for it. But ultimately we need to make sure guys are getting reps and getting games. Who that is, we’ll figure that out as we go.”
Abbotsford is not going to play any exhibition games. They are jumping right into the regular season on Friday, October 14th when they play in Ontario, California against the Reign.
Their first two weekends of play are on the road and the first home game of the AHL season will be at the Abbotsford Centre on Friday, October 28th. They host the San Diego Gulls for back-to-back games at the Abbotsford centre during a three-week stretch of home games at the end of October and the beginning of November.
We will continue to have you covered for all the latest news surrounding the AHL team.
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