The NHL All-Star Game is coming up in a few weeks, and the Dallas Stars will send at least one representative. Defenseman John Klingberg needs to be that representative.
If you ask a typical hockey fan to name two Dallas Stars players, their answers will probably be unanimous:
“Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.”
Ben Bishop or Alexander Radulov might make their way into the conversation every once in a while, but Benn and Seguin will likely take the cake every time. They have what many call a “bromance,” but more than anything else, they are superstars.
Ever since Seguin joined the team in 2013, the two have throttled the NHL with their play. They form a dynamic duo and have run the Stars’ top line for a few years. They have terrific chemistry and can wreak havoc on any defense they go up against. All in all, they are the Dallas Stars’ “prime” players.
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One name that may get mentioned a few times but probably doesn’t make the top two cut is John Klingberg. And considering the stardom that the top two get, it makes sense that Klingberg isn’t as popular.
But if you were to ask Stars fans specifically which players are most important to the team, Klingberg will (and rightfully should) almost always be in the conversation. That’s because he very much is a critical part of not only the Dallas defense, but the club as a whole.
Ever since breaking into the NHL in November 2014, Klingberg has proven to be a massive asset. A former fifth-round pick, Klingberg played in his first NHL game at the mere age of 22. And boy, did he make an impact.
Over the past few years, Klingberg has consistently played on the first pairing. He’s an offensive defenseman that has incredible capabilities on both ends of the ice. In the offensive zone, he can keep an attack alive at the blue line, can quarterback a power play, has an incredibly precise shot, and always seems to help in setting up a goal.
In the defensive zone, he’s turned (especially this season) into a more authoritative defenseman. He takes away shooting lanes, breaks up passes, and gets physical in the corners. He’s turning into a solid all-around defenseman.
But he’s also turning into an all-star caliber defenseman. And because of that, John Klingberg should represent the Dallas Stars in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.
The 2018 NHL All-Star Weekend will take place in Tampa Bay, FL this year from January 27-28.
While Saturday will once again hold the Skills Competition, Sunday will offer the annual NHL All-Star Game. And for the third year in a row, the ASG will be broken down into a three-on-three format. Prior to 2016, there were two teams randomly selected by the captain of each squad.
But now, it is a tournament style. Each of the four divisions (Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan, Pacific) has a team composed of 11 players. These four teams compete in a bracket format.
Just a few days ago, the captain for each division was announced. Spoiler alert: no Dallas Stars player was selected to be captain of the Central Division.
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban will captain the Central, leaving ten more open spots. In addition to the eleven spots on each club, six must be forwards, three must be defensemen, and the final two must be goaltenders.
With Subban taking up one of the defender spots, all eyes are now on the NHL to select the remaining ten players for each division. Will Klingberg make the cut?
Well, it seems as though he certainly should. Klingberg currently leads all NHL defensemen in scoring with 36 points, giving him a commanding five-point spread from second place. He is on pace for a career-high in points, considering his current high is 58 points from the 2015-16 season and they are just now halfway through the 2017-18 season.
Klingberg has become a much more effective defender for the Stars and is on a tear right now. Whenever he has the puck, he always seems to set up an offensive rush. He’s just an overall extraordinary defenseman this year.
In addition, no. 3 has never been to an All-Star Game.
The league requires that every team must have at least one member selected for the ASG. So there is a chance that Dallas could have more than one representative. But with how stacked the Central is with talent this year, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Klingberg has a few things working against his stellar performance this season. For one, there are only two remaining spots on defense for the Central Division. With players like Ryan Suter, Roman Josi, Alex Pietrangelo, Duncan Keith, and Dustin Byfuglien in the running as well, it could be a tough race, even though Klingberg is outscoring them all. But then again, scoring isn’t everything (especially for defenders).
Another thing is the competition with fellow Dallas Stars. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, both Benn and Seguin are also having excellent seasons for Dallas. Though they aren’t leading the league in points like Klingberg, they both have a reputation for being dominant and high-scoring forwards and are living up to it.
With that being said, one of them could sneak the bid ahead of Klingberg. And with the division being so tightly contested and packed with talent, the Stars may not see more than one player chosen for Tampa. That’s just the way it is.
Still, it would seem as though John Klingberg is the clear choice from Dallas for the game. He has spent the first half of the 2017-18 season rounding out his game and becoming an all-around effective defender. Klingberg is one of the Dallas Stars’ most reliable defensemen and needs a little recognition every once in a while.
An invite to his first ever All-Star Game would be a great start before the Norris Trophy hype starts up. We’ll see what the NHL decides to do in the coming days.