John Klingberg is facing down quite the predicament this season. Playing on an expiring contract – one that has made him a bargain for the Dallas Stars for many years – Klingberg is planning his future. The talented defenseman has watched a number of defensemen, unrestricted and restricted free agents alike, sign massive, long-term extensions over the past few months. Unsurprisingly, Klingberg has expressed his interest in joining this group with his next deal. Klingberg, 29, would be one of, if not the top defender on the open market if he makes it there this summer and could command such a contract. Yet, Klingberg has also been adamant about his desire to stay in Dallas. The Stars just gave fellow rearguard Miro Heiskanen an eight-year, $67.6 million extension and have both Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter signed for three more years beyond 2021-22 at substantial cap numbers. Can Klingberg land the deal he wants in Dallas?
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek was the first to put hard numbers to the hypothetical, reporting that Klingberg was seeking a max-term deal in the $62 million to $66 million range. This would put him just below his young teammate Heiskanen over the same number of years. This would likely be a palatable scenario for the Stars to keep their elite top four together without paying more for Klingberg, who would be 37 when his next deal expires, than for Heiskanen, who will be as old as Klingberg is now.
Unfortunately, that may be a pipedream for the Stars. Klingberg is among the top 10 scoring defensemen in the NHL over the course of his current contract. Why should he settle for an average annual value of $7.75 million to $8.25 million as Marek suggests when he has outscored the likes of Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse – all of similar age and experience – and they each came in at $9 million-plus on recent deals? The Athletic’s Saad Yousef claims that Marek’s numbers are merely a starting point. He has heard from sources that Klingberg is chasing that $9 million to $9.5 million average annual value and on a long-term deal, knowing this could be his last chance at a big pay day considering his age.
Klingberg’s camp has not drawn a line in the sand on its numbers just yet as the defenseman truly does wish to stay in Dallas. Yousef also notes that even at this elevated, fair-market asking price, the Stars can still afford to re-sign Klingberg and likely will do just that if he performs well early this season. There could be some wiggle room for Klingberg to take a slightly shorter deal or come in a little lower than his comparable considering his age and the “hometown discount” factor. However, the pressure is on for the Stars to work out those kinks and come to an agreement. The longer the season wears on, the longer Klingberg has to prove he is elite and the prize of the free-agent class, driving up his bargaining power on contract talks. Both sides want to see the relationship extended, but those odds go down the longer they wait. Dallas is prepared for that possibility, but that would make it no less of a major blow if Klingberg walks away.
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Related slideshow: Faces in new places for the 2021-22 NHL season (Provided by Yardbarker)
Faces in new places for the 2021-22 NHL season
We continue to get you ready for the 2021-22 NHL season by taking a look at some of the faces in new places, from veterans looking for a Stanley Cup, to the goaltender carousel, to some teams adding potential impact players, to the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens continuing their restricted free agency beef with another offer sheet. <>
Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
This was probably one of the more shocking moves of the offseason, not only because the Vegas Golden Knights traded the face of their franchise and the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, but because they literally gave him away for nothing. There was some concern that Fleury might retire instead of reporting to Chicago, but that did not happen. The question is if he can repeat that same level of performance from a year ago behind a worse defense and in his age 36 season. There is reason for optimism, but also some valid reason for skepticism. At some point, he will slow down, and his 2020-21 performance was a bit of an outlier from his recent seasons.
Dougie Hamilton, New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils made what was perhaps the biggest free-agent signing of the summer when they snagged Hamilton away from the Carolina Hurricanes on a massive seven-year contract that pays him $63 million. Given some of the other contracts signed by defenders this offseason that is probably a team-friendly deal for the Devils. Hamilton is one of the best all-around defensemen in hockey and brings elite offense and possession skills to the Devils, while also being an underrated defender.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Carolina Hurricanes
Probably the most intriguing move of the offseason as the Hurricanes pulled off the extremely rare offer sheet. Restricted free-agent offer sheets almost never get signed, and when they do they are almost never successful. But the Hurricanes got Kotkaniemi on a one-year, $6 million deal by taking advantage of a cap-strapped team while also continuing their beef with the Canadiens going back to the unsuccessful Sebastian Aho offer sheet from two years ago. The question is going to be whether or not Kotkaniemi can take a big step forward in his development and make the $6 million price tag, as well as the first-and third-round draft pick compensation, all worth it.
Sam Reinhart, Florida Panthers
The Buffalo Sabres’ latest rebuild is underway, and while Jack Eichel has yet to be traded, they did move another former No. 2 overall pick — and one of their top players — when they sent Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. Reinhart is a significant addition for a Panthers team that is coming off its best season in franchise history and looks like a Stanley Cup contender entering this season. <>
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks
Jones did not want to re-sign with Columbus — a common trend among star players over the years — and was sent to the Chicago Blackhawks for Adam Boqvist and a package of draft picks. It might turn out to be a long-term win for the Blue Jackets given Boqvist’s potential, as well as the draft picks. But the real win for Columbus might be the fact they did not have to pay Jones $9.5 million per season over the next eight years. Jones’ play has dipped significantly in the past two years. Sign of things to come? Or a blip on the radar while playing for a struggling team? The Blackhawks better hope it is the latter.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks
The Arizona Coyotes rebuild is in full swing and continued with the blockbuster trade of Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland, one of their top forwards, to the Vancouver Canucks. This is an interesting trade because the best part of the deal for Vancouver might not be the headliner (Ekman-Larsson) given his contract and how much his play has declined the past two years. It might actually be Garland and what he could help do for the forward depth, which has been severely lacking the past couple of years behind their young stars.
Brandon Saad, St. Louis Blues
The Blues made a couple of significant moves this offseason to bring in Saad as an unrestricted free agent from Colorado and Pavel Buchnevich in a trade from the New York Rangers. Saad never became a superstar, but he is a great possession driver that can score 20-25 goals while Buchnevich brings top-line talent to the Blues forward group. As long as Vladimir Tarasenko remains healthy and on the team, it should give the Blues a very formidable forward group.
Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers’ big splash in free agency this offseason was to add Hyman on a seven-year contract from Toronto. This is one of those deals that might be a small upgrade in the short term but could quickly become an albatross in a couple of years. He is a fine player. But do you really want to sign a 30-year-old player that is not a superstar to a seven-year contract? <>
Ryan Suter, Dallas Stars
It was not a shock to see the Minnesota Wild buy out the remainder of Zach Parise’s contract. It was a little bit of a shock to see them do the same with Ryan Suter‘s matching contract, sabotaging their salary cap situation for the next few years. Once Suter became a free agent he signed a multi-year deal with the Dallas Stars where he should provide solid depth on an already strong defense that features Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg. The Stars could be a sleeper team in the Western Conference this season.
Zach Parise, New York Islanders
When the Wild bought out Parise’s contract it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would reunite with Lou Lamoriello, his former general manager from their New Jersey days, on Long Island. And he did, signing a one-year deal to add some scoring depth to a Stanley Cup contending lineup. Parise may not be a top-line player anymore but he can still contribute some offense in the right role, and the price is right for the Islanders getting him on a bargain one-year contract.
Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames
Coleman was a key cog in Tampa Bay’s past two Stanley Cup championships, helping to form a dynamite third line alongside Barclay Goodrow and Yanni Gourde. All three exited Tampa Bay this offseason due to free agency, the salary cap, and the expansion draft. Coleman lands in Calgary on a long-term deal, getting a significant raise from his last deal that made him one of the biggest steals in the league against the cap. He will score 20 goals, drive possession, play with an edge, and defend quite well. He is the total package as a player and a strong pickup for the Flames, even if an expensive addition.
Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche
The goalie carousel was in full swing this offseason with a lot of netminders changing teams. With Philipp Grubauer going to Seattle in free agency, the Avalanche had a big hole in net that needed to be filled. They addressed that by getting Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Timmins and a first-round pick. Kuemper has been an underrated goalie the past couple of years and is going to be counted on to be the guy for a Stanley Cup contender. He is going to get a lot of help from what might be the best defense in the NHL.
Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes had a sneaky good goaltending duo a year ago and decided to completely overhaul it by trading Alex Nedeljkovic (a Calder Trophy finalist) to Detroit and allowing Petr Mrazek to leave in free agency. They replaced them with the veteran duo of Raanta and Andersen. Three years ago this would have probably been the best goalie duo in the league. Today, given their ages and recent injury history it is a bit of a question mark. A question mark with a high upside. But still a question mark. <>
Ryan Ellis, Keith Yandle, and Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
The key for the Flyers this season will be Carter Hart having a bounce-back year in net. They are trying to help him get there by boosting the defense around him with a couple of significant additions and an overhauled blue line. They shipped Shayne Gostisbehere to Arizona in a salary cap clearing trade (getting nothing in return) and then added Ellis, Yandle, and Ristolainen. The Ellis trade is significant because he is a legitimate top-pairing defender, while Yandle brings good value and production in a sheltered role. The Ristolainen trade, though, is a bit of a head-scratcher. He has been one of the worst-performing defensive players in the league for quite some time now and they paid a steep price for him in a contract year.
Zdeno Chara, New York Islanders
Chara is heading back to where it all started. Originally drafted by the New York Islanders and starting his career there, Chara is likely to finish his career on Long Island after signing a one-year deal with the Islanders. He is not a No. 1 defender anymore, but the Islanders do not need him to be with Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock patrolling the blue line for them.
Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers
Another big move for the Flyers this offseason saw them send Jakub Voracek back to Columbus in exchange for Atkinson. Atkinson has been one of the more underrated and overlooked goal scorers in the NHL in recent seasons and could be poised for a big year on a Flyers team that could be a sneaky contender if a couple of things break right for them.
Joe Thornton, Florida Panthers
How do you know the Panthers have taken a big step forward as Stanley Cup contenders? A future Hall of Famer in his 40s still looking for his first Stanley Cup signed a one-year deal with them in free agency. Players like Thornton do not make decisions like that unless they believe that team has a chance to win it all. The Panthers do. Which is a statement we probably do not get to say very often. He may not be a top-line MVP player anymore, but as a bottom-six center, he can still impact a game with his vision, intelligence, defense, and playmaking.
Viktor Arvidsson and Philip Danault, Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are trying to speed up their rebuild by adding a couple of potential impact players at forward. Arvidsson was acquired in a trade with Nashville in exchange for a couple of draft picks, and he should be in line for a bounce-back year. The underlying numbers are still strong and he was crushed by an abnormally low shooting percentage in Nashville. If that rebounds that is a big addition. Danault, meanwhile, is one of the best defensive centers in hockey and should give the Kings some outstanding center depth with Anze Kopitar and rookie Quinton Byfield (when he returns from his ankle injury).
Christian Dvorak and Mike Hoffman, Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens lost a lot from their Stanley Cup Final roster, with Danault, Kotkaniemi, and Tomas Tatar (New Jersey) all moving on. They replaced them in part by acquiring Dvorak from Arizona and Hoffman as a free agent. Dvorak might actually be a short-term upgrade over Kotkaniemi at center given their current production, but the latter still has more upside. Hoffman has some weaknesses away from the puck but still has an elite shot that could give Montreal 25-30 goals and boost their power play.
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask remains unsigned and nobody knows when or if he will re-sign with the Bruins. In the meantime, they signed Linus Ullmark to a long-term deal in free agency and have rookie Jeremy Swayman in the mix as well. Ullmark is almost certainly a downgrade from Rask, but he put up respectable numbers on some lousy Sabres teams. The change in scenery could be great for him personally, but it is a bit of an unknown for the Bruins. <>Internet Explorer Channel Network