John Klingberg left many Stars fans and observers hooked after an impressive Traverse City tournament performance and his good play in a preseason game with the Dallas Stars.
Back in September, after his first preseason game with the Stars, Mike Heika wrote about how Dallas is high on Klingberg.
"He sees the game in a different way. I mean, he's very unique," Jackson said. "He has some areas where he can improve, and that's exciting, because he has other areas where he really has something that very few players have."
It seems only a matter of time before this fifth round pick is suiting up for his first regular season game for the Dallas Stars. Depending on how well Frolunda does in the Swedish Hockey League that could be as soon as the end of this season or, barring that, at the beginning of next season. Why do I say that?
Firstly, it's clear that the Stars want him in Dallas as soon as possible. They would have probably wanted him in Austin this season if they could have wrangled him away from a Frolunda organisation that was determined to keep hold of him.
Secondly, Klingberg is on record saying that the idea is that he'll be in Dallas next season.
Is the idea that you should go over to Dallas for next season? - Yeah, right.
In an interview with hockeysverige.com he speaks about the past and the future. Bare in mind google translate leaves some of this quite jarring but the basic points come across in this interesting interview.
It's interesting reading this article simply because it confirms a lot of things that were already suspected. John Klingberg has had a rough couple of years in Europe. He played in Finland for Jokerit briefly, an experiment that was a spectacular flop.
Even John Klingberg admits that Finland wasn't his greatest moment (excuse the rough google translation):
When hockeysverige.se speaks with Klingberg on time in Finland, he lets most disappointed in herself because it was so. - It was a heavy season of course. This was the first time I left home. Since I'm not great either, and did not take the opportunity to get back their self-confidence, but instead made more difficult for me than I did on the ice. At the same time I felt a bit sorry for myself at the side of the ice and thought it was boring socially. - I was a wimp if you say so.
Many of those who follow the Stars prospects suspected that leaving home for the first time and going to a foreign country affected Klingberg's play. His frankness in this interview confirms that. It sounds as if he has learned that lesson and has grown more determined because of it.
It also highlights something the Stars will have to keep an eye on when he does make the jump to North America. They will have to make him comfortable, acclimate him to the culture and fit in with his teammates. They don't want to risk losing a talent to homesickness.
His track record upon returning to Sweden in the 2011-2012 season has been a mixed one. He has yet to play a full season in the SHL. He played only the end of that season and missed half of last season due to surgery in the offseason. It is understandable why he felt that it would be better for him to play at least a full season in the SHL before making the jump to North America.
While Skelleftea, the team he won the championship with in 2012-13, was an option he decided to play his last season before heading to North America with the team he was drafted from: Frolunda. He's taken a big role, especially on their power play, and was named an alternate captain. With things falling into place like that it seems that his development is going well, even if he isn't getting used to the North American ice just yet.
As he himself notes, "There are many who say that people go over too soon." With the logjam in defense in both Dallas and Austin it does make sense for him to play another year in Sweden getting top minutes and a chance to develop his already impressive array of offensive tools.
If he wants to feel like he is ready for NHL hockey then it doesn't hurt to let him stay. He can build up his self confidence and feel like he is ready to challenge the NHL. He has got 10 points through 16 games so far this season compared to the 13 he had in 25 games last season. If this increases he will likely become a better NHL player. Stars fans should really be in for a treat next year.
Klingberg has been named to the Swedish National Team at the European Hockey Tour this season. If he stays on his development curve it should not be the last time he's named to "Tres Kronor".
The idea is for him to play in Dallas next year. After a long and winding road John Klingberg will have the chance to show the NHL what he has. For me personally, I can't wait to see this incredibly gifted defenseman get a shot to amaze Stars fans and the NHL in general.