Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: Should The Stars Trade John Klingberg?

Welcome to Dallas Stars trade deadline week! We cannot discuss the trade deadline without diving into the biggest question facing this team. Should the Stars trade John Klingberg

Klingberg Contract Issues 

Klingberg has been a topic of discussion since the finale of the 2020-21 season. He is nearing the end of a bargain seven-year, $29.75 million contract and is due a hefty raise after proving to be one of the best offensive-defensemen in the league during that time. However, the rumors really picked up steam in December when it was reported that he wanted out of Dallas. 

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 “It’s not like I’ve been going out there and asking ‘I want to get traded now,’ or something like that,” Klingberg said. “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.”

Related: Stars’ News & Rumors: Klingberg Rumors, Roster Moves, & More

Now, while he showed that he has not demanded a trade, he also confirms that things have been messy in terms of negotiations. Around this time, Jim Nill gave Klingberg and his agent permission to speak to other NHL clubs, while the talks with Dallas remain quiet. 

When it comes down to it, the Stars are in a very tough position. They have one of the more dynamic defensemen wanting to stay in Dallas, but they also have a tight salary cap and multiple contracts they need to dish out to younger players this summer. Is there any possibility that they could bring him back on a long-term deal this summer? Do they feel they are destined for one more playoff run with this veteran group and is that worth losing him for no return after the season? Or do they want to build around their younger players for the future?

Has Klingberg Been Himself?

It is hard to believe that Klingberg is still sitting at just one goal through 45 games. While he has added 25 assists, he still sits at a team-worst minus-18 and there is no doubt that he has not been himself this season. 

Klingberg has spoken about focusing on hockey and not being distracted by the contract negotiations. However, that is hard to believe and it certainly seems like his mind may not be fully invested on a nightly basis. 

“It’s what I have to do,” Klingberg said about focusing on his play during contract negotiations. “Contract’s up after this year. I have to play good. I have to prove myself. Business-side, it is what it is. Hockey-side, I have to go out there, I’m a Dallas Star. I’m going to keep going out there, play my best game and help this team win. It’s just a business.”

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While Klingberg has maintained a steady Corsi-For percentage (CF%) in the mid-50s, some of his other stats have drastically decreased over the past two seasons. His expected goals for (xGF) has been consistently well above 50 during his career, reaching as high as 77 a few seasons ago. Last season, it dropped to 38 as the stars struggled to score goals, and this year, it has decreased further down to 36. What does this mean? Essentially, he is having far less of an impact when he is on the ice at even strength. 

“I’m going to keep trying to shoot as much as I can, but not just use it as an excuse to shoot the puck,” Klingberg said. “Sometimes, you have to look for a better opportunity, but you don’t want to pass up a shot either. It’s a fine line there.” 

Is Thomas Harley Ready?

A large part of the Klingberg decision actually comes down to an entirely different player. 20-year-old Thomas Harley is clearly an elite prospect and has been since he was drafted in the first round in 2019. He has a similar offensive style of game to Klingberg with size and a huge upside on both ends of the ice. The youngster is currently in his longest stay in the NHL, playing in the last seven games for Dallas and recording his first career point in the process. 

“It’s been coming for the past couple games,” Harley said. “You grow up dreaming it’s going to be a little more memorable than just a poke back down the wall. They don’t ask how, they ask how many? So I’m happy.”

Related: Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: The Next Three Weeks Will Tell All

Do the Stars feel that he is ready to be given more responsibility? It certainly seems that way as his ice time has continually increased and he has been playing the last few games paired with Klingberg in the top-four. 

“Thomas is very smart,” Bowness said. “When he gets it, his head’s already up. He’s already looking and he kind of knows what he’s going to do with it next. He makes very few poor decisions because of that.”

Thomas Harley Stars Draft-Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: Should The Stars Trade John Klingberg?
Thomas Harley, Dallas Stars, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If the Stars have full confidence in Harley, they could opt to let Klingberg walk at the deadline, pushing the youngster into an even bigger role for the end of this season and moving forward. As far as the playoffs go, Harley does have one game under his belt, coming against the Colorado Avalanche in the round-robin portion of the 2020 bubble. While there are plenty of questions to ask, one thing is certain, Harley is closing in on becoming an NHL regular. 

“There comes a point where he’s got to stay in the lineup,” Bowness said. “We’re to that point where if he plays well, he’s making us make that decision. ‘Okay, he’s ready.’ So he’s improved in the areas that we need him to improve in. He’s got a tremendous amount of confidence in his puck skills. You saw that the other night, which we love.”

Will John Klingberg be traded? That is very much up in the air. The Stars are currently sitting in a playoff spot with 30 games remaining in the season. Klingberg has been a huge part of their offense in the past and has plenty of playoff experience under his belt. On the flip side, he has struggled this season, Dallas likely does not want to risk losing him for nothing this summer, and they already have Miro Heiskanen and Ryan Suter with Harley is knocking on the door. 

What do you think? 

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