Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Tyler Kleven.
Coming in at 6-foot-4 Tyler Kleven has been a towering presence on the United States National Team Development Program blue line. He scored just two assists in 17 games of the USHL schedule this year. He was better in the USNTDP’s college exhibition schedule, putting up two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 28 games. With 63 penalty minutes on the season, he has also shown a physical game, at times crossing the line. Kleven played in the All-American Top Prospects Game scoring a goal and an assist.
Last season, Kleven had three goals and five assists for eight points in 52 games with the Under-17 squad. He also had 96 penalty minutes. In five games at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, Kleven picked up 16 penalty minutes, leading the tournament. He had a one-game call-up with the Under-18 team.
The Fargo, North Dakota native is committed to playing hockey for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks next season. If he changes his mind, Kleven’s WHL rights belong to the Portland Winterhawks, who drafted him in the 10th round of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
Tyler Kleven Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born January 10th, 2002 — Fargo, North Dakota
Height 6’4″ — Weight 200 lbs [193 cm/91 kg]
Kleven is an excellent skater for his size. His forward speed is decent as is his acceleration. However, he is even better at moving backwards. His agility and edgework are also very good. This allows him to maintain gap control and keep attackers in front of him. He also has smooth pivots, allowing him to switch from offence to defence quickly and vice-versa. Kleven has a powerful lower-body. This gives him very good balance. He is strong on the puck, winning battles in the corners. He is also able to use his balance and strength to help keep the front of the net clear.
Kleven plays a very simple game at the offensive end of the ice. He has a bomb of a shot from the point. He can get his slapshot off as a one-timer as well. His agility allows him to walk the line and open up shooting lanes and get his shot on net. Kleven also has a powerful wrist shot and snapshot. Kleven is more of a shooter than a playmaker though. He doesn’t have a lot of poise and creativity with the puck. Once he gets it, he’s either looking to move it quickly to a teammate, take a shot on net, or dump it into a safe area.
Kleven helps the transition game by getting back quickly and retrieving loose pucks. He moves it up the ice with a good first pass. However, Kleven is very much a stay-at-home style of defender. He is unlikely to carry the puck through the neutral zone or to join the rush as a trailer.
Kleven’s bread and butter is his work in his own end of the ice. He makes good use of his size, playing an extremely physical game. He battles hard along the boards and does a good job of keeping the front of the net clean. If an attacker comes down his side of the ice with his head down, he can expect to be plastered into the boards.
Kleven is willing to put his body on the line to block shots. He keeps good gap control against the rush and pushes forwards to the outside, taking them away from prime scoring areas. Kleven retrieves dump-ins quickly and can make a good first pass, starting the transition game and limiting the time spent in his end of the ice. He is also good at using his long stick to cut down passing lanes. He is especially effective on the penalty kill.
Projection and Comparison
Kleven does not have the offensive skills necessary to be a number one defender in the NHL. However, he potentially could become an important shutdown defender playing big even strength and penalty kill minutes in the top four. He is also a relatively safe pick, in that his chances of making the NHL are very high, even if it is as a bottom pair defensive defenceman. Kleven will spend at least a couple of years playing in the NCAA and should spend that time working on his puck skills and continuing to add muscle to his frame. While he is already strong for his age, he could add more strength, like most teenage prospects. Kleven’s game is reminiscent of Marc Methot, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Tyler Kleven that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Tyler Kleven Main Photo:
PLYMOUTH, MI – DECEMBER 12: Tyler Kleven #43 and Drew Commesso #35 of the U.S. Nationals follows the play against the Switzerland Nationals during day-2 of game two of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena on December 12, 2018, in Plymouth, Michigan. Team USA defeated Switzerland 3-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)