With just a couple more days to go before preseason, and the team back in Dallas and getting ready for training camp, it’s fair to say that hockey is back – finally!
After the draft, free agency madness, and a few concerns here and there (side-eyeing Nill and Seguin), it’s a good moment to take a look back at the past season and see what went wrong, what needs improvement, and what to look forward to this upcoming season. Like, let’s say… our defensive line.
And so before we jump back into la vida hockey, it’s time to talk about our #1 defenseman, Swede child, and #4 scorer of the team during the 2017-2018 regular season: John Klingberg.
John Klingberg was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2010, 5th round, 11th pick (131st overall) but his NHL debut came 4 years later, on November 11, 2014, against the Arizona Coyotes. Throughout his career, Klingberg has played for Skellefteå AIK (Sweden), Jokerit (Finland), and Frölunda HC (Sweden).
On April 17, 2015, he signed a 7-year-contract extension, which is a big relief because he has become the Stars’ top defender, pretty much saving the team in that area (defense has not been their strongest point in the past). Klings played in all 82 games of the 2017-2018 regular season, tallying 67 points (8 goals, 59 assists), and a plus/minus of +10, making it his best season to date. He finished third in scoring among defensemen in the league and was sixth in voting for the Norris Trophy.
He also joined his teammate Tyler Seguin at the 2018 All-Star Game and was included in the NHL’s list of Top 20 Defensemen – #10, right after St. Louis Blues’ captain Alex Pietrangelo, with Tampa’s Victor Hedman taking the first place.
Our boy is doing great and it’s only the beginning.
Under Ken Hitchcock’s coaching, Klingberg truly developed his defensive skills, becoming a key element in the power play and the penalty kill unit. During that last month of regular season which some of us might want to forget (understandable, they were so close!) Klingberg’s game took a toll along with the team but still managed to get some points. As mentioned in our Jamie Benn preseason piece, you can’t expect one (1) player to carry a whole team on his back, and so the team ultimately crash and burned.
But that’s not always bad: with failure comes improvement, and the Stars have all the tools to get back on their feet and make it to the playoffs (please do). With Jim Montgomery as coach, Klingberg as our top defenseman (and paired with Esa Lindell. Good stuff), AND Miro Heiskanen expected to make his debut this season, it’s safe to say the team is doing good in the defensive department.
John Klingberg enjoys long summers at home in Gothenburg, cinnamon buns the size of his head, and midsommar festivities.
(He is a quiet one, so there’s no much we can say about his offseason activities other than it looks like he seized every opportunity to relax and be with his family)
Our very own piece of Swedish royalty (NOTE: he is not related to Sweden’s royal family, but you know, every team has that one Swedish player, and Klings is ours) is nowhere near his peak – he’s only getting started, guys.
As mentioned above, this past season we saw him blossom as a top defender, and being a young player (26 years old) we can say that the best is yet to come. Please consider him for your Fantasy team.
Klingberg is a highly skilled defenseman, and he knows it – but he also knows he can improve. It’s that confidence and humbleness that will continue to get him far in the league. We’ll see who he will be paired with this season (will it be Lindell? Honka? Heiskanen? Probably all), but he will undoubtedly continue to be the team’s top blueliner. Montgomery said it best:
“What I love is he has the mentality that he thinks he can be (one of the best defensemen in the league) and he’s pushing himself to get there. He’s really just walking into his peak”
And so let the preseason begin!
Photo by: NHL