Those are only some of the words you could use to describe Tyler “the K-Train” Kleven and each is better than the last. Let’s just say that I’m glad I don’t play hockey and never had to face a player like him!
Born in Fargo, North Dakota to Lori and Chris, Tyler Kleven is a 6’4”, 201lbs, left shot defenseman who plays a real hard nose brand of hockey, which often leaves the players on the opposite end of the ice thankful that they made it through their shift without incident!
When you think about it, the Ottawa Senators haven’t had a big, physical defenseman who just loved going out there and laying down hits in years! When they had the likes of Marc Methot and, before him, Anton Volchenkov, who was ironically known as the “A-Train,” you could expect to be witness to an incredibly painful open hit ice as the forward comes skating down into the defensive zone. The crowd goes wild!
I still remember wincing every time it happened but cheering for it to happen again! On top of the excitement of bone-crushing hits, when you add a defenseman with a physical edge, your team instantly becomes much more difficult to play against. The opponent now has to make sure to keep their head up when they consider how they’ll enter the zone. Never a bad thing when that player is on your team!
Tyler Kleven is going to be the real deal for the Ottawa Senators
The majority of fans will be most excited about Kleven’s physical play out on the ice, but that isn’t his only skill. Not even close! Kleven is so good at carrying the puck up the ice and dishing it to his teammates. I remember this being something that surprised me and many fans when we had a chance to watch him for a few games at the end of last season.
When you combine his ability to carry the puck up the ice with his booming shot from the point, you have an offensive threat, albeit on a small scale, from the backend, which is something that the Senators have lacked over the years (but has been addressed to a degree with the addition of Chychrun and graduation of Sanderson).
Many presume that Kleven will spend most of, if not the entire season (barring injuries with the big club) down with the Belleville Senators in order to round out his game. While he can skate well and carry the puck, he could use some work on his lateral movement in order to become an even better skater.
Also, at times, he doesn’t make the best decisions about who to pass the puck to when under pressure, so having a chance to refine that while playing top four minutes in Belleville will go a long way to creating a complete package.
It’s widely known that defensemen take longer to mature and develop, unless of course, you’re Jake Sanderson, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Kleven spend a little extra time seasoning in the AHL. In the next 1-2 seasons, though, I would expect to see him challenging for a bottom-six position (to start in the league), as he has put in the work to become less defined by only his physical play and more so on his overall completeness.
My advice? Pay real close attention to this guy! He’s going to be making some noise in this organization and will become a mainstay in this defensive corps for many years to come.