On April 17 the Dallas Stars announced they had signed 22-year-old defenseman John Klingberg to a seven-year deal worth $4.25 million per season. It’s nice to have some news arise other than the Stanley Cup playoffs, but just like any signing there are positives and negatives you can pick out about the deal.
This one most definitely fits that description.
The Stars finished 41-31-10 this season and missed out on the final wild card spot in the Western Conference by seven points. Dallas had all the pieces coming into the year. They acquired Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky while already having elite scorers Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Their biggest question mark was their blue line and how consistent Kari Lehtonen would be in net. That ended up being their glaring weakness as they allowed more than three goals a night on average.
The Stars did have one very good defensemanthe same one they just signed to a seven year deal.
Dallas’ best defenseman all season long (after he was eventually called up from the AHL) was Klingberg. The young Swede had a stellar rookie season with 11 goals and 29 assists in 65 NHL games. He also carried a plus-5 rating through those games, which is rather impressive seeing how he averaged nearly 22 minutes a night on a team that allowed 3.1 goals per game.
Ten of his 29 assists came while manning the point of the Stars’ power play.
Another positive is simply seeing that he is now locked up as a Star for quite sometime. The fifth-round draft pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Now the Stars can say they have one of the better young blue liners in the league.
The biggest plus for both the Stars and Klingberg is the faith the organization is showing in him. In the team’s official press release Stars’ general manager Jim Nill said this:
He’s someone we are building the backend of our defense on. We think he is going to be a major part of our foundation as we build this team moving forward.
Klingberg showed amazing skill and promise this season, but let’s not forget this was his first ever NHL action consisting of 65 contests. He was fantastic, but the Stars may have pushed the pen a bit too quickly and for too long. A seven-year deal is somewhat of a rarity for a 22-year-old blueliner.
Another possible downside to all of this is the fact he’ll be getting paid $4.25 million a season. His cap hit stands at a higher amount than Nashville’s Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and Marc Staal of the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, and the same cap hit as St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk.
That’s quite the load of money shipped out to a player with just 65 games of NHL experience.
The Stars had to make a move on Klingberg since he was heading for unrestricted free agent this summer. The Stars were locked on re-signing what looks to be, and what they hope to be, one of the best two-way defenseman in the NHL.