For the Dallas Stars, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s only been there for little over two weeks.
The Stars were in desperate need of help. They were in bad shape overall, especially on defense. Seemingly out of nowhere the Stars got their hero in 22-year-old defenseman John Klingberg.
Since being called up from the Texas Stars earlier this month, Klingberg has been a revelation for Dallas. He seems to have single-handedly captivated the attention of teammates and fans while helping propel the team to a three-game winning streak with his own five-game scoring streak.
Klingberg was drafted in the fifth round (131st overall) in the 2010 draft. Though he was a project, his vision and offensive awareness were his strong suits before being drafted. He spent time in the Finnish and Swedish elite leagues before he had a really short stint in the AHL last season.
Klingberg’s Impressive Start
In training camp, Klingberg was one of the most exciting players to watch. His smooth skating, crisp zone exits and tape-to-tape up ice passing seemed to constantly create opportunities and open up the ice. His patience was also tremendous.
To start this season, Klingberg tallied four goals and 12 points in 10 games in the AHL. Jim Nill likes to call up the player that has performed the best when looking to fill a void in Dallas. It came as no real surprise that Klingberg got the call considering his play in the minors. What was surprising was just how well he carried it over to the NHL.
Klingberg has registered three goals and eight points through his first eight career NHL games. In those eight games, the young Swede has scored only three points less than Trevor Daley on the Stars’ defensive unit. It took Daley 22 games to earn 11 points, and this was the hottest start of his career. In eight games, Klingberg averages the third-most ice time among the team’s defenders, and he is tied with Tyler Seguin for the best plus/minus rating on the team. He has rocketed up the rookie scoring leader boards and in less than half the time that most of the other rookies have had.
More than Just the Numbers
It’s not just that he is producing at such a high rate. What is more impressive is his overall play and demeanor on the ice. His 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame is a bit lanky, but he’s not easy to knock off the puck. In fact, he is not easy to get to when he has the puck. Klingberg has played with the poise and patience of a grizzled veteran. He brings an air of confidence, calm and smoothness that stands out. Rarely does he create a turnover in his own zone, and his outlet passes seem to never fail. Both aspects were repetitive areas of concern and mistakes for the Stars’ defensive unit this season.
Not only has Klingberg been tested with increased responsibility already, but he has welcomed the opportunity and grabbed the bull by the horns. It took eight games for Klingberg to be promoted to the team’s top power play unit. He has made the unit more dangerous with his passing and right-handed shot from the point. In just his second game, he skated for over 23 minutes. Over the next four games, he would average over 24 minutes of ice time.
Klingberg has also been an advanced stats darling since being called up. He owns the team’s best relative Corsi, relative Fenwick and Corsi On numbers. He is the Stars’ top defender in terms of the team’s save percentage when he is on the ice. He has done this while being in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive zone starts and quality of competition.
Since being called up to the NHL, Klingberg has seemingly vaulted to being the team’s best overall defenseman. Whether that is an issue of the struggles of the rest of the defenders or a tribute to just how well he has been playing, the Stars are happy they found a hero in Klingberg either way.
Rookie Stars d-man John Klingberg has been absolutely unreal since his call-up. Mesmerizing. Wow.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) November 23, 2014
Two weeks ago John Klingberg had never played a NHL game. He’s now tied for 2nd among rookie defensemen in goal scoring.
— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) November 23, 2014