John Klingberg likely won’t be a Dallas Star after this season. Contract talks stalled and the news broke about his trade request on January 7. The Stars are currently in a massive playoff push as they try and seize one of the wildcard spots in a tight race. If they fall out of the race and decide to trade players for assets, Klingberg would probably be traded.
Elliotte Friedman reported on 32 thoughts that the Toronto Maple Leafs had conversations with Dallas regarding Klingberg. Let’s examine a potential trade between the Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars from both sides.
The Leafs need a defenseman to play on the right side. There is a weakness beyond the top pair, and Klingberg would boost their defensive core without a doubt. With Jake Muzzin on LTIR, Friedman estimates they have around $7 million in cap room so they could easily fit Klingberg’s $4.25 million cap hit if he doesn’t return before playoffs. But is he the best option for them?
The Leafs have struggled in front of their own net. And with their goaltending not being as strong at the moment, that lack of edge needed to clear pucks out is more evident. Klingberg is an excellent puck mover and offensively gifted player but isn’t known for his defensive skills. He doesn’t fill this specific niche.
Another consideration is that Klingberg would be a rental for the Leafs. They signed Morgan Rielly, another excellent puck mover, to an 8-year extension earlier this season. They have young Rasmus Sandin playing in a similar style.
Klingberg is one of the best in the league at walking the blueline, but the Leaf’s powerplay currently ranks first in the league and is quarterbacked by Rielly and Sandin. Would they move Sandin off? Whatever the Leafs give up would be for the short-term only and they need to be able to justify that price for the time and skills they’re getting back.
From the Stars’ perspective, they would probably become sellers only if they clearly can’t make a playoffs push by the trade deadline on March 21. This may also influence the Leafs’ interest in Klingberg since they could find someone else to fill their defensive gap before then.
When looking at the Leafs’ prospect pool it’s easy to gravitate towards the name Nick Robertson, the brother of Dallas’ Jason Robertson. The young winger has dealt with several injuries but was recently called up from the Marlies to play with the Leafs.
Robertson knows there is the possibility he could get traded. Perhaps pairing him with a first-round draft pick could work. Maybe he could be paired with Justin Holl or Travis Dermott, two players constantly in trade rumors, which gives some depth options to the Stars along with a lower draft pick. Again, it is important to remember that this would be a rental for the Leafs. Klingberg is not having his best season and this may also lower the price.
The Stars will be losing a huge piece in Klingberg regardless of when he leaves. He is an Assistant Captain, improves the team whenever he is on the ice and is a leader off of it. The Stars have Thomas Harley emerging who has a similar skill set but he is still young. Whether Klingberg leaves in free agency or at the trade deadline, Dallas will miss him.
Nick Robertson would bring offensive potential to a Dallas team that often has scoring struggles, not to mention the brother’s reunion narrative that all fans will love. John Klingberg would bring a high level of puck-moving ability, powerplay quarterbacking skills, and experience to the Leafs. As March 21 looms closer, every win and every loss matter more for the direction of the Dallas Stars at the trade deadline.