clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is it Time to Scale Back John Klingberg’s Minutes?

Another rough outing continues his tough stretch

NHL: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars
John Klingberg’s -9 rating is lowest of all Dallas defensemen.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting in Section 327 last night, it was clear that John Klingberg is beginning to fall from grace among Stars fans. Audible groans could be heard with each fumbled puck, bad pass, poor defensive decision and turnover.

Klingberg ended Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Calgary even for the night while logging 27:24 of ice time. His minus-9 rating is third worst on the Stars - behind Jason Spezza’s minus-15 and Tyler Seguin’s minus-10 - and worst among all Stars defenseman.

Compounding this issue, or perhaps contributing to it, is the fact he sees more ice time that any other Star, averaging 22:54 per game.

The stats continue to get worse.

According to Hockey Reference, Dallas has 48.2 percent of the shot attempts (a fairly decent proxy for possession) at 5-on-5 when Klingberg is on the ice. Klingberg had a rating of 55.6 percent last season and 53.5 percent in 2014-15.

Klingerg has committed 25 giveaways on the season and is on pace to commit 80 giveaways on the season, two more than last season’s 78. So the puck is still on his stick the same amount, but good things aren’t happening nearly as often when he is on the ice. Something obviously isn’t working.

Not numbers general manager Jim Nill wants to see from a guy, even from a making a bargain $2.5 million this season with a $4.25 million cap hit.

Nill signed Klingberg to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract in 2015 after a stellar rookie season. He is under contract until 2022 and will make $6 million per year in the last two years of his deal (2020-21 and 2021-22).

What can Nill, coach Lindy Ruff and assistant James Patrick do to solve the issue? Perhaps the answer is, once again, take Klingberg off the ice, or at least play him less.

Now 10-11-6, and 1-2 in December, the 2016-17 season has been a mess since training camp.

Dan Hamhuis has struggled to fit in. Stephen Johns has been inconsistent. Patrick Nemeth has been a non-factor and, believe it or not, Jordie Benn has been Dallas’ most consistent option on the blue line.

Collectively, Dallas defensemen are minus-27, with only Oleksiak, Benn and Oduya positive on the season (but none of them positive in possession metrics). Oduya leads all Dallas D-men with a pretty measly plus-2 rating.

Worth 55 games left Klingberg can certainly turn it around. Ruff, Nill and the Stars know what he is capable of, and he has shown it time and time again. Just not yet this season.

It could be argued Dallas would be best served to see Klingberg up in the press box for a while, or at least cut his minutes significantly.

Is Klingberg the most talented defenseman on the roster? Almost certainly. Is he playing the best? Not a chance.

Dallas will be back on the ice Thursday when they host Nashville and have a chance to get back to a tie for fourth in the Central Division.

But if the Stars want to make a run and climb back into playoff positioning, Klingberg needs to find his game.