NHL rosters are once again ready to be changed after the Seattle Kraken’s exclusive window to negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents ahead of the expansion draft Wednesday night expired. That didn’t kept teams from talking to one another for moves after the expansion draft was completed as the league heads right into the draft and free agency just days later.
It was an interesting time on hockey Twitter.
The Dallas Stars are rarely out in the rumor mill. Part of that is because general manager Jim Nill is very good at playing all his cards close to the vest, and part of it is because there really hasn’t been much intrigue with the roster decisions they’ve had to make the last couple of years — especially as the Stars appeared set for one last Stanley Cup run with their current core this year. Generally, when Dallas hits the rumor market they’re steps away from executing whatever is rumored to be occurring. The Tyler Seguin trade on the Fourth of July years ago springs to mind.
So, generally, I take Dallas being part of any rumors with a heaping tablespoon of salt. It’s just not in Nill’s DNA to let leak what moves he may be contemplating to improve his roster.
That brings us to this one that hit the timeline recently:
Teams are still talking with one another ahead of the NHL Draft this Fri/Sat (freeze lifts Thurs at 1pm ET). One item I keep hearing, as noted in my piece today on TFP, is Dallas remains very interested in Seth Jones. There's some chatter John Klingberg's part of discussions.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 19, 2021
The line between the Stars being interested in Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets is a fairly easy one to draw: Jones was born in the DFW area, he has family here still, and the “hometown hero returns” storyline is usually buzzworthy within the market.
From a hockey perspective, it also makes sense. The 26-year-old Jones has been considered in the upper tier of hockey defensemen, sometimes even despite a questionable system and the coaching style of John Tortorella. Entering his peak age range, Jones could be a good piece to add to a core blueline centered around 22-year-old Miro Heiskanen.
But it appears that this rumor has come about because the Columbus Blue Jackets inquired about John Klingberg’s availability should the Stars be unable to re-sign their top-pairing puck-mover on the back end.
Friedman: Dallas has been asked "a little bit" about John Klingberg's availability if they can't re-sign him. He's one year from being a UFA and just got Heiskanen re-signed.https://t.co/XI77Jt6cQF https://t.co/kUK8J3WUZF— CBJ Coverage (@CBJcoverage) July 20, 2021
With Jamie Oleksiak signing with the Seattle Kraken yesterday, the Stars have some blueline depth that needs addressing. Moving on from Klingberg would only truly make sense if the Stars were unable to sign him long-term after his current contract is up and a full season of service would net Dallas potentially a higher return than dealing the soon-to-be-UFA at the trade deadline instead.
But with the way this roster’s core is set to make one last run at winning the Stanley Cup, plus the stated desires of Klingberg in the past about wanting to stay in Dallas and the built-in money presumably for his extension coinciding with hefty contracts expiring (i.e. Joe Pavelski’s $7 million cap hit comes off the books next summer), I’m not sure I see the reasoning behind shipping Klingberg out before the year starts.
Crazier things have happened — but trading Klingberg doesn’t feel like a move Nill and company will make just yet. With team’s needs clearer now that the expansion draft is completed, maybe there’s a different trade that can be had whereby Dallas finds a way to add another impact defensemen without shipping out arguably their best puck-mover and power play quarterback to get it — and messing with a chemistry that has been working quite well from the backend here of late.