Contract extension talks have calmed down between John Klingberg and the Dallas Stars. As the season approached, talks broke down to the point that Klingberg felt disrespected. “For me, as a player, I don’t feel that I’ve been appreciated in that way when we don’t even negotiate. It’s quiet,” Klingberg told the Athletic. Though a player is disputing his worth, that doesn’t mean a trade is the best option for either party. Here is my analysis of the John Klingberg Trade Rumors.
Klingberg would be a top-4 on any team that approaches him. He has 17 points in 28 games and is on pace for a 40+ point season. Klingberg is solid on the defensive side, and he’s averaging about a block per game with 17 hits this season. Klingberg has finished twice in the top 10 in Norris voting, although he hasn’t been nominated since the 2017-18 season.
Klingberg’s stock with the organization has cooled off due to free agency signings and prospects hitting their potential. The emergence of Miro Heiskanen over the past two seasons has definitely eaten into Klingberg’s playing time, as the addition of Ryan Suter this past offseason. This past summer, Heiskanen signed a massive 8-year $67.6 million extension, while Suter signed a 4-year $14.6 million contract. The Stars also extended Esa Lindell on a six-year $34.8 million deal during the 2019 offseason.
“Other guys have signed right before the season before. I wanted to do that as well,” Klingberg said via Sportsnet. “Lately, it has been going more quietly and quietly.”
Klingberg said he talked to Stars management as soon as last season ended, trying to lock up a long-term contract with the team.
“I’ve been a Dallas Star since Day One. I’ve been pretty clear that I want to stay here,” Klingberg said. “I grew up here. I had my daughter here and all that.”
Klingberg scored the series-winning overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to send Dallas into the second round. He finished that playoff run with 21 points and 59 hits through 26 games. The Stars lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
Alex Someoranthor of the Fourth Period reported on NHL Network that Klingberg requested a trade from the Stars. According to Klingberg, he did not request a trade but did feel left out by the organization. Stars General Manager Jim Nill gave Klingberg and his agent permission to talk to other GMs, likely where the confusion of a trade request comes from. The Stars management has declined to respond to multiple media outlets about Klingberg’s situation.
The Stars are hard-pressed against the salary cap, as CapFriendly shows that they have zero cap room. Next season, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov’s contracts are also up. The Stars will gain around $6 million from Ben Bishop’s contract ending as a reprieve. That’s what’s holding the Stars from extending Klingberg.
The Stars are reportedly listening to trade offers for Klingberg, but nothing has materialized. The Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs seem like good fits for the 29-year-old Swede, but more than three teams will probably be in this sweepstakes. Klingberg, who spends time on the first and second defensive pairing, is a high-end rental for any contending team.
Optimally, for both the Stars and Klingberg, a team that can offer a contract extension will have the edge in the deal. Klingberg can have an amicable depart from Dallas and the Stars optimize his trade value.
What’s His Value?
Rory Boylen of Sportsnet used trades during this past offseason to gauge Klingberg’s value as a trade asset. Boylen used the Seth Jones and Ramus Ristolainen trades as a ceiling and floor. Ristolainen was traded to the Flyers from the rebuilding Sabres for Robert Hagg, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2023 third-round pick. Jones was traded from the Blue Jackets to the Blackhawks along with a 2021 first-round pick and 2022 sixth-round pick in exchange for Adam Boqvist, first and second-round picks in 2021, and a 2022 first-round pick.
The true value of a Klingberg trade would be two firsts and a prospect. That value could shift based on where he’s traded and if that team can offer Klingberg an extension. The absolute floor would be a first-round pick paired with a top prospect, but even then, his value in free agency may be higher than that.
If a post-trade extension isn’t previously agreed upon, Klingberg might as well hold out to be a UFA. Weirdly, free agents lose value if traded in their contract year. Look at John Tavares and Matt Duchene as an example. Duchene was traded 23 games into the 2018-19 season to the Ottawa Senators. He produced at a point-per-game level with the Sens for the rest of the season, then was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018-19 season. He hit the open market the following year and signed with the Nashville Predators on a 7-year $56 million contract, with an average pay of $8 million a year.
Tavares requested not to be traded from the Islanders in his contract year, then left for free agency. He signed with the Maple Leafs for more money than the Duchene deal, averaging $11 million per year on a 7-year contract. There are slight differences in the two deals, like Duchene was 29 when he signed, while Tavares was 28, the NHL’s salary cap consistently rising, and player pedigree. Still, Duchene could’ve signed for a larger amount of money and the trade during his contract year hurt his free agency value the most.
If Klingberg gets traded, then hits free agency this offseason, he may not get the contract he wants and will still be unhappy.