The National Hockey League’s top free agent defenceman has finally made a decision on his future. And few, if any, actually expected the kind of deal that the 29-year-old offensive blueliner signed.
Rather than a big-money, lengthy-term contract, the Swedish rearguard chose to walk away from the only NHL club he had known – the Dallas Stars – and agree in principle to just a one-year, $7 million deal with the Anaheim Ducks.
Remaining in the west, Klingberg will transition closer to the ocean and play the 2022-23 season out of the Pacific Division with an ever-changing Ducks squad that will see a change in core leadership with Ryan Getzlaf retiring from play following the 2021-22 season and the additions of Ryan Strome and Frankie Vatrano also via free agency this summer.
Interestingly, Klingberg, who had long been considered as a trade deadline piece for teams looking to bolster their blueline depth, actually said in May that he had wanted to stay in Dallas, but the lack of contract negotiations between he, the club and his agent had him rather perplexed.
“At the end of the day, I always want to stay here,” Klingberg said. “This is the only team I’ve been talking to, obviously. On our side, we’ve been trying to find different ways to get it done. Year length, money-wise, just trying to get something we’re both happy with.”
The former fifth round selection back in 2010 has 71 goals and 374 points to his name in just 552 regular season games – clearly a hot commodity on the back-end. In 55 postseason games, he has seven goals and 35 points.
With Anaheim missing out entirely on the postseason last year and actually finishing seventh in their division, one would expect Klingberg and the Ducks to either agree to terms on a long-term extension throughout the season or see him moved at the trade deadline to a club looking for defensive help.
“We are extremely excited to add John to our group,” Anaheim general manager Pat Verbeek said. “John is a gifted player who can quarterback a power play and give us needed scoring from the blueline. He also adds veteran leadership and character to our team.”