‘It’s so good to be rewarded’: Danila Klimovich speaks about earning ice time from his improved two-way game
By Faber7 months ago
20-year-old Danila Klimovich had a lot of challenges last season but is finding success in his sophomore year.
He closed out the season on a four-game scoring streak, bringing his total on the year to 17 goals while adding 12 assists through 67 games. He was healthy scratched a handful of times through the season but has been consistently in the lineup since the middle part of the season.
Last year was a tough one for the kid. Just 85 days after being selected with the Canucks first pick in the 2021 draft, Klimovich was making the jump from the Belarussian second division to the AHL. In what was the biggest jump in the competition that any professional hockey player went through last year.
“I feel more confident and feel more support from the organization, from the Sedins and coaches and staff and I feel more confident this season,” said Klimovich. “I have an English teacher and my English is getting better. I feel much better and I am happy to be here.”
Klimovich is being rewarded for his strong play but head coach Jeremy Colliton is not just giving Klimovich opportunities, Colliton is making Klimovich earn it and the plan for his development is being presented to Klimovich much better this season. He is seeing what he needs to do and realizing that when he works on the right parts of his game, he will be rewarded.
“Last year, I didn’t recognize it.,” said Klimovich about earning offensive opportunities from his defensive play. “This year, every time Jeremy puts me in, I need to earn my ice time, and on the power play and even the PK, wherever. When I earn it, he puts me in and I just need to keep playing how he wants me to play. When I play on [the] power play. It’s good for me too. It’s so good to be rewarded.”
Last season, Klimovich was a -8 on the year, this season, he leads the Abbotsford Canucks with a +15 and is in the top 50 of the AHL for plus/minus.
His forechecking is quickly becoming his best non-offensive skill as he has a long reach, good pace and is big and aggressive enough to throw a hit on anyone in the AHL. He’s always been a bigger body but he seems much stronger than he was last season.
Now, with the playoffs just a few days away, Klimovich is finally in a position to get off of the fourth line and play with some more offensive-minded linemates. He is projected to play alongside Arshdeep Bains and Aatu Räty for the opening game of the playoffs.
Räty has enjoyed his time playing alongside the other 20-year-old on the team but joked that he doesn’t really care if he is playing with young guys or older guys. Räty likes having a shooter like Klimovich on his wing and believes that Klimovich being a right-shot guy is an even better asset for him as a left-shot centre.
“Everybody knows about [Klimovich’s] great shot,” said Räty. “Right now, being that hot and then getting that level of confidence when he’s shooting, he always sees the net. I’ve got to be looking for him all the time and it’s good for [me] to have a good righty player there.”
Colliton has been impressed with how Klimovich has reacted to the added confidence from the staff that has resulted in Klimovich earning a bump up the lineup from the fourth line as well as some added power play time.
“He’s playing a lot better,” said Colliton. “So then you get rewarded with a little more responsibility and I thought he was good again. The margin for error come playoff time is small. So you’ve got to be ready. Every shift, your details have to be good. And it doesn’t mean it’s mistake-free but you’ve got to do little things when you’re on the ice and I think the last three games have been very solid for him. You can see he’s got some confidence back, as far as his finishing. It’s a great weapon for our group to have and when he does get a chance that he finishes. He’s done a nice job on the powerplay here of late and it’s nice to see that [because] the level is going to go up here. So I think it was a great sign playing against an excellent team how he performed and he’s just got to keep going.”
Last year, Klimovich struggled with consistency in his shot but he has honed in and become more accurate. He still continues to have a shot that impresses on a nightly basis but it feels like he’s hitting the back of the net a lot more compared to last season when he was hitting the back of the boards. Klimovich still loves to shoot, he won’t be shy to tell you that but he’s now recognizing how effective his high-level shot can be in the AHL if he can get every shot off with his signature power behind it.
“Mentally, I think [Danila Klimovich] has matured,” said Abbotsford Canucks General Manager Ryan Johnson when he joined the AHL broadcast on Friday night. “I think he’s become a better professional and that’s shown in some of the execution in his game. He’s come a long long way and he’s only 20 years old.”
It’s the perfect time for him to get hot and with the playoffs beginning on Wednesday, Klimovich told us that he is excited about making his playoff debut. You may remember that he was healthy scratched last year in lieu of Jett Woo going in to play winger because he brought a better defensive awareness.
That stuck with Klimovich and he’s come into this season and really put his head down and worked on his weaknesses.
Klimovich has been trending towards making an impact at the NHL and has been one of the better development stories of the 2022-23 season.
Let’s hope he can stay hot and continue to cook when the regular season evolved into the postseason.
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