GLENDALE – Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney is always looking for pleasant surprises as a season unfolds, and in 2012-13 it was forward Rob Klinkhammer who most exceeded expectations.
Klinkhammer, who entered the season with zero goals and two assists in 16 NHL games, notched five goals and six assists in 22 games with the Coyotes after being recalled from the American Hockey League in early March.
“Rob was a very good player in the AHL and he just came up here and fit in seamlessly on that checking line with Boyd Gordon and David Moss, and he also brought some offense to the table,” Maloney said. “He showed us he could skate, handle the puck and compete - all the ingredients to be a very good role player for us going forward.”
With that in mind, the Coyotes on Thursday re-signed Klinkhammer, 26, to a two-year contract. He was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"I'm ecstatic,” Klinkhammer said. “I love everything about playing in Phoenix - my teammates, the coaches and management. I think I fit in very well with the way they want to play and the identity of the Coyotes.”
Klinkhammer said the timing of the deal is perfect because he is currently in the middle of closing on a new house in Lethbridge, Alberta.
“I’m sure that’s going to take up a big chunk of my summer but first and foremost will be my summer training and I’ll be starting that on Monday,” Klinkhammer said.
Klinkhammer first caught Maloney’s eye during an intra-squad scrimmage the team Coyotes played at Jobing.com just before the season started. He was among several players recalled from the AHL to fill out the two rosters.
“He definitely took that opportunity and showed people that he wasn’t just there to go through the motions,” Maloney said. “He was running into people, he was driving the net and he was a strong presence. That really caught my eye and as the season went along we kept saying that we have got to give this guy an opportunity. We needed to see if he could do for us what he was doing in the AHL. And he did that. His play never tailed off.”
Klinkhammer played 53 games for the Coyotes' affiliate in the American Hockey League in 2012-13 and notched 14 goals and 30 assists. He said making the transition from the AHL to the Coyotes went smoothly because management instructed him to play to his strengths.
“When they gave me this opportunity they laid it out for me exactly how they wanted me to play and told me what they wanted me to do,” Klinkhammer said. “Not having to change my game really fit me well. So, I just played my style and just worked my butt off every shift and here I am now.”
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