The Minnesota Wild likely want to keep John Klingberg around, but due to the penalties for the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, it is not guaranteed that they will be able to afford the 30-year-old. As a result, we could see the 2010 fifth-round pick test the market yet again this offseason.
Klingberg put together a solid 2022-23 season, as he had 10 goals to go along with 33 points in 67 games split between the Anaheim Ducks and Wild. Therefore, teams looking to add a top-four, right-shot defenseman are likely to be in the mix for his services this offseason. Let’s discuss three specific clubs that could be potential free-agent destinations for him.
The Ottawa Senators are a team to watch very closely this offseason. General manager (GM) Pierre Dorion announced that their rebuild is over, and we could see him be very active in free agency because of it. Although he has greatly improved their forward core over the years, it is apparent that they could use another right-shot defenseman. That is one of the weakest areas on their roster and with Klingberg being one of the top free-agent options available, he could end up on Ottawa’s radar.
The Senators made a major step in improving their defensive group before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline passed, as they added Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes. Now, Dorion’s next step is to bring in a top-four, right-shot defenseman, and Klingberg would provide Ottawa with just that. He could work on a pairing with either Chychrun or Chabot and would certainly receive power-play time if signed.
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The Senators should have the cap space to bring in a player like Klingberg, so look for them to be in the mix.
Detroit Red Wings
Before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline passed, the Detroit Red Wings made a very surprising trade, sending Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks. Although nobody can complain about the sweet return that they received for moving him, it is clear that his departure has also left a notable hole on the right side of their defensive group. With Klingberg also being a top-four offensive defenseman, there could be a great match here.
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When looking at Detroit’s current lineup, there is no question that Klingberg would be a great match to play with Olli Maatta on the club’s second pairing. Maatta’s extremely reliable defensive game would give Klingberg the freedom to take more chances offensively. Besides forming a potential excellent second pairing, Klingberg would also give the Red Wings’ power play a much-needed boost. Therefore, this could be an avenue that GM Steve Yzerman considers going down.
The 2023 NHL Offseason could be a big one for the Buffalo Sabres. After missing the postseason by just one point, the Sabres are clearly on the rise, and great things should be on the way for them because of it. As a result, we should expect them to take advantage of their cap space and make some notable additions to their roster because of it. With Buffalo’s right side needing a serious boost, Klingberg could surely be a player who ends up on their radar.
The right side of the Sabres’ defensive group is one of the club’s weakest areas, and it needs to be addressed during the summer. With Klingberg being one of the best right-shot defensemen who could hit the market this summer, he stands out as a clear target for Buffalo. He would be an option to play on their top pairing with Rasmus Dahlin, but he also could form an impressive second pairing with Owen Power. In either scenario, Buffalo’s top four and power play would improve noticeably by adding a high-impact defenseman like Klingberg.
We will need to wait and see if the Wild can successfully bring back Klingberg. If not, look for the Senators, Red Wings, and Sabres to be some of the clubs linked to him once free agency is officially here.