This offseason there were reports that the Dallas Stars were in discussion with John Klingberg on a lengthy extension, one that potentially could have had a maximum eight-year term. For whatever reason, a deal never worked out at the time, and it appears the relationship between the two sides have soured, as David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported on Friday that the 29-year-old defenceman recently requested a trade.
Klingberg, who has been in the league for eight seasons, all of which have come with the Stars, is known around the league for his offensive abilities. He isn’t one dimensional however, as he is also solid defensively, and produces very good possession numbers year after year. Defencemen like him don’t become available often, meaning many teams will be in on him, and the Calgary Flames should be one of them.
To this point in the 2021-22 season, the Flames have had a respectable power play, as they are 11th in the league with a conversion rate of 22.3 percent. However, they are lacking a true quarterback on their top unit, in large part due to the fact that Mark Giordano is no longer with the team. Instead, they have been relying on Rasmus Andersson to fill that role, and while he hasn’t done a bad job, Klingberg has a much higher skill set.
His power-play skill is proven by the fact that over the last five seasons only six defencemen have put up more points on the man advantage than himself. The way he is able to move the puck around allows him to give the Flames’ top weapons many great looks on the power play, something that would certainly entice players like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm.
Upgrade in Secondary Scoring
One area the Flames have lacked this season has been secondary scoring. While Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Tkachuk have all performed admirably, they aren’t getting a ton of support when it comes to putting the puck in the net. Oliver Kylington has done all he can on the back end to help with this, but having another defenceman capable of creating chances thanks to great breakout passes and the ability to jump into the rush would be a huge bonus to this lineup.
While most don’t think of adding secondary scoring when related to acquiring a defenceman, that is exactly what Klingberg would bring. Through his 503 game career, he has put up 343 points, good enough for a .68 point per game pace, and that number should remain the same, if not increase, as a member of the Flames. While his goal scoring has taken a hit this season with just one tally on the year, he still has a respectable 16 points in 25 games on what is one of the worst offensive teams in the league in the Stars.
Two Birds With One Stone
On top of this team needing help offensively, many have been displeased with the work of Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Zadorov on the third pair. While both bring a much more physical approach than Klingberg, neither has particularly good foot speed, something that has been exploited when the Flames have come across some of the league’s better teams. That wouldn’t be an issue at all for Klingberg, who is one of the better skaters in the entire NHL.
As mentioned previously, Klingberg is much better defensively than he gets credit for, and can be used in all situations. He has never averaged under 21 minutes per game during his eight seasons in the league, and is sitting just below 22 in 2021-22. This would be a massive upgrade from both Gudbranson and Zadorov, neither of who is averaging north of 18 minutes.
Fitting in Klingberg’s Contract
While Klingberg’s $4.25 million cap hit is extremely team friendly, the Flames would still have to make room for him as they currently have just under $2.7 million in cap space. The ideal situation would be to move Gudbranson along with either picks or prospects for him, as Gudbranson carries a $1.95 million cap hit which would allow the deal to work.
Thought the Stars likely wouldn’t have a ton of interest in Gudbranson, he too is a pending unrestricted free agent, meaning they wouldn’t have to worry about his contract in future seasons. If the Flames were able to put enough incentives alongside Gudbranson, it may be enough to make the move happen. Given his reputation around the league, he certainly won’t come cheap, but if the Flames want to move the needle from a good team to a Cup contender, they have to be willing to give up assets to improve their roster ahead of the trade deadline.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.