The Toronto Maple Leafs made a minor league trade on Tuesday night, swapping defenceman Andrew Nielsen for left winger Morgan Klimchuk.

Nielsen was caught in a logjam on the Marlies, who are becoming fairly stacked with left-shot defencemen. Ahead of him on the depth chart are Calle Rosen, who is playing at a fantastic offensive clip in the AHL, and new first round pick, Rasmus Sandin, who has taken very well to the AHL and is quickly ascending the depth chart in the Leafs organization. There is also Andreas Borgman, who played 48 games in the NHL last year and could probably be playing in the NHL for certain teams. Combined with the Maple Leafs D core that is also stacked down the left with Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott — all of whom are going to be there long or long’ish term — there is no room for Nielsen to prove himself at the AHL level, no room to strive for at the NHL level, and staying in limbo was doing nothing for his development.

After a very good rookie season where he potted 14 goals in 74 games, Nielsen quickly slid down the depth chart as the organization stacked the cupboards at the AHL level.

Nielsen also didn’t develop as expected defensively. There has been some commentary with regard to his inability to understand what to do in his own zone, as well as a penchant for taking bad penalties. Despite access to world-class training, his skating never developed as one would have hoped and expected.

It will be a fresh start in his home province of Alberta, where he will be given a shot of proving himself on the Stockton Heat — perhaps alongside star AHL right-shot D, Oliver Kylington, who could complement his style as a pure puck mover, but that remains to be seen. He didn’t show any signs of top-4 life on a stacked Marlies squad.

Klimchuk, 23, has primarily played as a middle-six left winger for the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL team, and has lost his luster as a once-promising first-round talent out of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He was put on waivers after training camp this year and passed through without claim, but he should add some scoring depth on the Marlies. His 2013 NHL draft scouting report from McKeen’s Hockey described him as follows:

Stepped up in Jordan Weal’s wake – to deliver a breakout 36-goal effort and double his rookie output of `11-12 .. gave a strong performance winning gold with Team Canada at the U18 Worlds – clicking with phenom Connor McDavid and finishing second in team scoring (7-3-5-8) .. also won gold at the Ivan Hlinka last summer .. selected fifth overall in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft ..

SCOUTING REPORT .. clinical finish and potent one-touch skills tops his list of assets .. hops and spins in startup before engaging a fast forward stride .. packs an explosive acceleration burst and change of pace – and excellent top speed .. dangerous off the rush – lurks in the soft spaces and has a knack for getting into prime scoring lanes .. excels providing the final touch – supported by a powerful snapshot and precise accuracy .. exploits his tempo to challenge defenders 1-on-1 .. deploys quick stickhandling shifts and clever puck maneuvers to open up lanes .. despite quick hands and an ability
to execute at full throttle – is still more of a distributor and shooter than a ‘carry-and-create’ type .. doesn’t always make optimal playmaking decisions .. plays a determined and responsible two- way game .. gradually improving defensively and developing into a viable penalty killer .. must continue to refine his checking skills, however .. wastes energy by taking inefficient angles and can do a much better job blocking lanes .. seems to have trouble reading the opposition’s intentions.. not overly big or powerful – yet surprisingly resilient .. worked diligently last off-season to upgrade his strength and stamina and is better able to absorb and give hits, albeit still gets knocked around pretty good .. should gain confidence in his physical play as he does display solid hitting technique .. a hard- working and dedicated team player – with natural goal-scoring ability that may overshadow the size factor in the long run.

Morgan Klimchuk Video Highlights

Morgan Klimchuk Statistics

Left Wing -- shoots L
Born Mar 2 1995 -- Regina, SASK
[23 yrs. ago]
Height 6.00 -- Weight 185 [183 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by Calgary Flames
- round 1 #28 overall 2013 NHL Entry Draft
STeamLeagueGPGATPPIM+/- POSTGPGATPPIM+/-
Sep-08Calgary Bisons Bantam AAAAMBHL3213223510|
Oct-09Calgary Bisons Bantam AAAAMBHL2833195244|Playoffs1318133112
Nov-10Calgary Buffaloes Midget AAAAMHL3227235012|Playoffs20000
Regina PatsWHL50110-1|
Dec-11Regina PatsWHL67181836273|Playoffs50112-2
Canada Pacific U17WHC-1752460|
2012-13Regina PatsWHL7236407620-1|
Canada U18WJC-18735864|
2013-14Regina Pats ÒAÓWHL573044742726|Playoffs43252-3
Abbotsford HeatAHL40004-2|
2014-15Regina Pats ÒAÓWHL271416301213|
Brandon Wheat KingsWHL332030501226|Playoffs13310132-2
2015-16Stockton HeatAHL55369100|
2016-17Stockton HeatAHL66192443369|Playoffs200000
2017-18Calgary FlamesNHL100000|
Stockton HeatAHL62192140241|
2018-19Stockton HeatAHL163588-1|
Toronto MarliesAHL-----|