Stars’ News & Rumors: Klingberg Rumors, COVID Again, & More

In this edition of Stars’ News & Rumors, John Klingberg contract talks get messy,  COVID hits the team again, & Steve Greely is hired as Director of Hockey Strategy, Scouting, and Development. 

John Klingberg Contract Talks

With John Klingberg’s contract coming to an end this summer and the Stars pressed up against the salary cap, things were likely to get interesting. As rumors continue to swirl around the league about what is going on behind closed doors, Klingberg has made it clear where he stands. 

“I don’t think it’s entirely true,” Klingberg said. “It’s not like I’ve been going out there and asking ‘I want to get traded now,’ or something like that. It’s something that’s been going on with the negotiations and stuff like that. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a few frustrating years individually. Other guys have signed right before the season before. I wanted to do that as well. Lately, it has been going more quietly and quietly. 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. For me, as a player, my agent, we talked to Jim (Nill) a couple months back. He agreed that we could start talking with other GMs and see where we were at. Negotiation-wise, the Stars have been very quiet.”

Essentially, the truth is, Klingberg wants to remain in Dallas. He has been a member of the Stars since coming into the league in 2014 and has developed into an elite defender over his time. Since 2014, he has recorded 344 points in 505 games, become a staple on the power play, and has done it all on a bargain of a contract. So what is the issue? This summer, he will be turning 30 and is deserving of a rather large raise. After playing on a seven-year, $29 million deal, the skilled defender is looking for his next contract to be close to $65 million over a similar term. 

“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” Klingberg continued. “I understand it’s a business on both sides. I’ve got to take care of my part as well. It’s been standing still. After last season, I was pretty clear that I wanted to start negotiating right away and see where we were out. They wanted some time with free agency and draft and stuff like that. I understand that. At the same time, I feel like I’ve been here proving what kind of player I’ve been for eight years now.”

While the Stars would love to bring Klingberg back after this season, they are going to be in a tough situation to do so. Although the team is likely to lose some big contracts from Joe Pavelski and/or Alexander Radulov, they also have a host of key free agents they will need to sign. This list includes Jake Oettinger, Denis Gurianov, Jason Robertson, Riley Tufte, and possibly Braden Holtby, among a few other youngsters. This puts Dallas in a position where they need to decide how aggressive they want to be over the next few seasons. 

Related: Stars Top 5 Trade Targets in 2022

“I don’t know really where they’re at, if they intend to sign me,” he said. “ I know that they want to sign me and I understand that there’s a lot of pieces that have to go into place and it’s a cap world and all that, as well. But they have to make a decision if they see me as a future Dallas Star or what’s going on here. On my side, on my agent’s side, I feel like we’ve been trying to move pieces, years, numbers, and stuff like that. On our part, I feel like we’ve been trying to meet them in different ways. More and more, as it comes down to, it’s been more quiet.”

John Klingberg Dallas Stars-Stars' News & Rumors: Klingberg Rumors, COVID Again, & More
John Klingberg, Dallas Stars (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although his future with the team remains unknown, it is unlikely that Klingberg will be traded anytime soon, as the rumors have been stating. He wants to stay in Dallas and will do what he can to make that happen while the Stars are in the thick of a playoff race and at this time, have no interest in sending him anywhere. As we get closer to the deadline and end of the season, things may change. 

Stars Hire Steve Greely

Among the madness of COVID, the Stars made a real smart hire, bringing on Steve Greeley as the Director of Hockey Strategy, Scouting, and Development. Greely, 41, has spent time with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Boston University, and the U.S. Development Program, mostly working in a form of scouting and development as well as some experience as assistant general manager. 

Greely will focus on scouting as well as the Stars’ analytics initiatives. Analytics has become a huge factor in the NHL and this hire for Dallas shows that they want to take advantage of every resource they can. 

“We are pleased to expand our hockey operations department as this hire gives us another resource in scouting and analyzing players at all levels, as well as increasing our awareness of league trends,” Stars’ general manager Jim Nill said. “Steve has a strong scouting and analytics background and has shown the ability to research and digest, numbers and information that help crucial decision-making in drafting, developing, and signing players.”

COVID Strikes Again In Dallas

Just as the Stars were free and clear of the evil COVID demons that forced six games to be postponed, they found themselves right back in trouble again. Over the past few days, Denis Gurianov, Braden Holtby, and Alexander Radulov have all tested positive and been entered into the protocol list. As of today, all three players remain positive, meaning they will be ineligible to play on the upcoming road trip against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. For Dallas, the hope is that this outbreak remains relatively quiet, rather than spiraling out of control as it did in December. 

Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars-Stars' News & Rumors: Klingberg Rumors, COVID Again, & More
Braden Holtby, Dallas Stars (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“You come in and you roll with what you have to deal with that day,” Rick Bowness said of the constant change in the NHL since 2020. “We are going on a road trip to Florida and we will need some extra bodies so we will work on that later.” 

The most intriguing aspect of all of this is the return of Anton Khudobin to the Dallas lineup. With Holtby out for at least three games, the Stars recalled the 34-year-old netminder, who had been playing in the American Hockey League since clearing waivers.

Related: Stars FInally Have A Clearer Goaltending Picture

Khudobin served as the backup to Jake Oettinger on Wednesday but may see time on the Florida trip as the Stars play back-to-back nights against two of the hottest teams in the NHL. 

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