Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
Regular Season Statistics
|GP||G||A||Pts||PIMs||+/-||Avg TOI||Corsi Rel||OZ starts|
Key Stat: 1st - Klingberg led all rookie defensemen in scoring this year, edging out first-overall pick from last summer Aaron Ekblad, who had 39 points for the Florida Panthers. Klingberg's final point totals equate to a 50-point pace over the course of a season. For reference, only 11 defensemen in the NHL put up 50 points or more this year. This is one of those points where I am gritting my teeth and trying not to bias your eventual grade of John Klingberg.
The Good: In games in which John Klingberg scored, the Stars went 8-1. So there are a lot of happy memories tied to Klingberg's contributions, and that might cloud one's judgment a bit. The whole picture is more complex than just points, of course, as it is with all defensemen. Klingberg played over 18 minutes in his debut in Arizona on November 11th, and Lindy Ruff took a shine to him right away. Klingberg would play ~23 minutes or more in his next 6 games--a far cry from the 'teens of minutes that other recent Stars rookies have been given (or have earned, depending on your choice of phrasing). This was a player who came into the lineup and forced everyone to take notice. Klingberg scored 8 points (three of them goals) in his first eight games before Ruff started tailing back his ice time a bit.
The Bad: He played over 26 minutes in an overtime loss to Minnesota, and then began a stretch of reduced ice time from 11/29 through 12/19. (However, he still posted a 53.8 CF% over that stretch, so it's not like he was ineffective.) Part of this drop in ice time was attributed to Klingberg's conditioning after having missed time with injures and, well, being a rookie who was asked to play significant tough minutes in the NHL for the first time. Additionally, Klingberg showed a pretty common tendency of most rookies in that he sometimes lost coverage of his man in the defensive zone.
Bottom Line: You've heard by now that the Stars just signed Klingberg to a seven-year deal, and obviously that says plenty about what Dallas thinks of the young Swede (as Ralph would say). Having young, productive defensemen who also have the awareness to defend well is about as good as it gets. Klingberg's overall possession numbers (53.6% CF for the year) and ability to start in the defensive zone (as opposed to being "sheltered" like most young defensemen are by being primarily used in the offensive zone) speak volumes about the trust Lindy Ruff has come to have in the fifth-round pick.
Vote now: Rate Klingberg on a scale of A to F (A being the best, of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.