Though it had been expected since earlier this week, the news was made official today. John Klingberg will return to the Dallas Stars lineup tomorrow night. Klingberg has been cleared by the Stars medical staff and will be reinserted into the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Joel Hanley, who had cleared waivers earlier this week, has been assigned to the minor leagues.
It’s been over a month since Klingberg suited up for the Stars, suffering a hand injury in early November that required surgery. In his stead, young defenseman Miro Heiskanen has stepped up and become the leader on the blue line while Esa Lindell has continued to log big minutes against tough competition. With Klingberg back, the Dallas defense corps will immediately get a huge offensive boost as they wait for some of their injured compatriots to return.
The 26-year old Klingberg finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting last season while establishing a new high in points with 67. Though it’s unlikely he’ll match that total now that he has missed so much time, his near point-per-game pace from the early part of the season should be a welcome addition to the Dallas attack. He had also been logging more minutes than ever before in his career, something that may not continue right away given Heiskanen’s emergence. Still, it’s a huge boost for a Stars team that still has playoff aspirations and sits just a few points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The team is now 17-14-3 on the year and carries a positive goal differential at +1.