As the trade deadline approaches, many eyes have turned to the Dallas Stars after John Klingberg spoke publicly about the lack of extension negotiations making him feel underappreciated. Klingberg’s representatives received approval from the club earlier this season to approach other teams to try and find a fit as the veteran defenseman approaches unrestricted free agency, but there hasn’t been a deal completed to this point.
Through the first part of the season, Klingberg had been getting his normal ice time, well over 20 minutes on most nights. Recently though, those numbers have dropped and tonight will be a huge change, as the former Norris Trophy nominee is skating on the third pairing against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jeff Marek of Sportsnet spoke about the situation on tonight’s 32 Thoughts segment:
The Dallas Stars have stepped up their efforts to trade John Klingberg. We believe very much that he is getting dealt. Hard to say exactly when, but Dallas does seem aggressive in wanting to get something done soon-ish.
Today, Stars head coach Rick Bowness told reporters including Saad Yousuf of The Athletic that if he could have, he would have made some “surprising” healthy scratches tonight as he looks to get his team back on track. Dallas doesn’t really have the option to do that right now as several players are on the COVID protocol.
Whether Klingberg would have been one of those isn’t clear, but it’s obvious that the team is preparing for a time without the pending UFA. At the time of this writing, he has the fifth-most ice time among Dallas defenders tonight, only ahead of partner Joel Hanley.
One thing to note when it comes to Klingberg speculation is that the 29-year-old defenseman has does not have any trade protection in his current contract and could be sent anywhere. His $4.25MM cap hit could also make him rather palatable for even the most cap-strapped contenders, depending on what comes back to Dallas. Through 29 games this season (before tonight), Klingberg has 17 points.