Some unexpected news came out of Texas on Friday, Jan. 7. Reports claimed John Klingberg, Dallas Stars defenceman, was missing. You requested a tradeThe team. A pending free agent who is on a reasonable contract, there’s surely going to be a ton of interest in his services. Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs and management’s ears should be perking up with the latest buzz out of Texas. The Stars, Maple Leafs, and Stars could make the perfect trade match and offer us the blockbuster deal we desire.
Klingberg wants a change of scenery and a fresh voice from the bench
The 29-year old has scored 16 points in 25 games in 2021-22, seven of which were on the power play. Compare that to the two points by Rasmus Sandin on the Maple Leafs’ second unit and adding Klingberg could certainly benefit the club’s special teams. While the Maple Leafs’ man advantage continues to be near the top of the league, why not try to improve the second unit? Sandin is going to be a star, but he hasn’t been as productive as people think, especially on the power play.
The Dallas defenseman at 6’3″ is known for his offensive play and has been under the radar ever since his entry into the NHL in 2014-15. Klingberg has been ranked 9th in the NHL in points by a defenseman since his debut season. He has 343 points from 503 games, 135 of which were on the power play. He’s ahead of the likes of Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Dougie Hamilton, Morgan Rielly, and Seth Jones, meanwhile playing less games than all of those big names.
The $4.25 million salary isn’t ideal for the Maple Leafs to manage at the moment as they have some cash constraints, but with the recent flexibility created by shuffling Nick RitchieMoney is not an impediment that cannot be overcome. This includes potential salary retention as well as the possibility of moving down to Texas.
Klingberg’s knock has been his The underlying numbers are downThe past few seasons. However, nothing is more important than the arrival Stars head coach Rick BownessIn 2020. His production has dropped on both sides of puck and it is understandable why the defenseman would desire a change in scenery. He’s not meshing well with the coach or new system, he knows this season means a ton for his future in the NHL and how much money he’s going to earn signing a new deal this summer.
Klingberg Acquisition Would Benefit Maple Leafs
So, here’s my case as to why the Maple Leafs should acquire Klingberg from the Stars. Toronto is going for it this season — they have a goaltender capable of putting the team on his back, a bunch of depth up front and if they can find ways to plug a couple of holes, a potential first-round exit will be laughed at. The Stars defenseman would be a huge upgrade to Justin Holl, and while he may not play as physical as Holl, he’ll be able to move the puck more efficiently, create more offense and provide more stability to the group.
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The Maple Leafs continue to roll out the likes of Pierre Engvall, Nick Ritchie, and/or Wayne Simmonds on the second power-play unit — three players that have combined for one power-play goal in 2021-22. Klingberg, a major upgrade, would work well with Sandin on the backend to create yet another weapon in Toronto’s arsenal.
Maple Leafs have Trade Pieces to Finish a Move
What exactly would the Maple Leafs need to pay to acquire the Stars’ defenseman? At this point it’s hard to tell the asking price and if the Stars are even going to oblige to the trade demands. They are a team that’s fragile and on the cusp of completely missing the playoff picture, which could in turn change the course of their season. If the Stars are not within reach of a playoff spot, they are expected to move a number of players and that’s how this deal between the two clubs could turn into something major before the March 21 deadline.
The Maple Leafs will be sitting comfortably with lots of interest if the Stars do indeed go the route of a fire sale. Not only in Klingberg, but also with another Star who is a pending unrestricted free agent — forward Joe Pavelski. He is an experienced leader with a lot of playoff experience. Pavelski has a no trade clause, but it only covers three teams. You can bet that he would be open for a Cup run in Toronto.
Some even suggest that the Leafs might be open to Petr Mrazek being moved in the deal, and would take back Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin. People, expect the unexpected. We’ve seen it year in and year out. Toronto doesn’t have a ton of financial flexibility but are able to pull off deals and bring in talent when many thought they couldn’t. The league is full of teams who are willing to eat salary for a certain price and Kyle Dubas and company won’t be shy trying to get other teams involved if it helps facilitate the deal.
Here’s one deal for Leafs Nation to chomp on and one I feel like could help propel them to the promised land. In exchange for Holl and Engvall, Mrazek, prospect Nick Robertson, the Maple Leafs acquire Holl, Pavelski, and Pavelski from the Stars. The Leafs will be adding serious talent to all three aspects of their game, as well as three players with a combined 310 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Stars will be getting four players under their team control, including top prospects and talent, to help them avoid a total rebuild.
Talent can only be brought in if you are willing to pay it. The Maple Leafs have proven that in the past. Willing to payThe trade deadline. Last season’s moves didn’t work out, but don’t expect Dubas to become gun shy. We may see the Maple Leafs shooting for the Stars early in 2022, if they go all-in once more.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. His passion for the game and unique perspective make him a constant contributor to the THW community. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow us on Twitter @ShugMcSween