From Esa Lindell to John Klingberg, now we get to talk about the other half of the Dallas Stars’ top pairing in the 2016-17 season.
I’m not generally given to passionate outbursts (this is not true) but if I’d realized at the end of last year how vital Alex Goligoski was to the success of John Klingberg, I’d have thrown myself groveling at his feet and asked him to at least stay until Klingberg was ready to fly on his own. Because if there’s one thing the beginning of the season proved, it’s that he really wasn’t.
Klingberg spent much of the first half of the season floundering with heavy defensive zone starts and a rotating cast of partners.
Contrast this, if you will, with the same graphs from last season.
(Red, by the way, is bad.)
And keep in mind that those rises in 5v5 goals against also come with heavier defensive zone starts, where this past season he had trouble even when starting in the offensive zone.
Last season Klingberg finished sixth on the ballot for the Norris, in a sophomore campaign that also had him finish top five in points among all NHL defensemen. Hope was high at the start of this season, and I’d venture to say that no one was more disappointed in his fall from grace than Klingberg himself.
As has been noted elsewhere on this site and by angry fans on twitter, Klingberg certainly had his struggles this season. I don’t want to heap blame on Lindell for that, because the truth is that both defensemen have their strengths and weaknesses. The problem for this pairing all season was that their strengths didn’t complement each other and their weaknesses only compounded.
While the pairing was measurably unsuccessful, Klingberg still saw vast improvement in towards the end of the season (and more sheltered minutes in the offensive zone). Too little too late to right the ship, but at least enough to give hope for a strong season next year, with hopefully a better suited partner. (Where that partner comes from is up to Jim Nill.)
What grade would you give John Klingberg for the 2016-17 season?
This poll is closed
A - Best defenseman we had all season
B - Best he could have done given his partner(s)
C - Best at not earning the raise Nill gave him
D - Best at making a firm case for trading him
F - Best at worst