The Stars had a brilliant comeback to topple the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, with goals from Denis Gurianov, Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz to improve Dallas to 17-12-2 on the season. One of the assists on Pavelski’s game-tying goal went to John Klingberg, a player who has been in the news lately due to a report that he requested a trade out of Dallas recently.
Klingberg was asked specifically about that report and the trade rumors that have surrounded him all season, and explained his side of the story (video via Bally Sports Southwest):
“Yeah I don’t think it’s entirely true. It’s not like I’ve been going up and asking ’I want to get traded now.’ Nothing like that. It’s something that’s been going on with the [contract] negotiations and stuff like that.
“I’m not going to lie; it’s been a few frustrating years individually. As a player it all ends up coming to your next contract, obviously. I’ve been a Dallas Star since day one. I’ve been pretty clear that I want to stay here. I grew up here. I had my daughter here. At the end of the day it’s a business, but it’s a business on both sides. I have to take care of my part as well. It’s been standing still.
“After last season I was pretty clear that I wanted to start negotiating right away and see where we were at. They wanted some time with free agency, the draft, and stuff like that. I understand that, but at the same time I’ve been here proving the kind of player I’ve been for eight years now. Other guys have signed right before the season and I wanted to do that as well. Lately it’s just been going more quieter and quieter.
“For me as a player, I don’t feel as though I’ve been appreciated in that way, when we don’t even negotiate. It’s quiet. So for me as a player, and with my agent, we talked with Jim [Nill] a couple months back, and he agreed we could start talking with other GMs to see where we were at. Negotiation wise with the Stars has been very quiet, so it’s been a little disappointing.”
Klingberg, 29, is in the final season of a seven-year, $29.75 million contract he signed in 2015. He currently carries a $4.25 million cap hit and is earning $6 million in actual salary this season. He has been eligible to sign an extension since the start of last offseason, with reports indicating that he was looking for a new eight-year contract in the range of $62 million to $66 million. That would represent a substantial raise, but not one that would put him ahead of teammate Miro Heiskanen, who signed an eight-year, $67.6 million deal last July.
He’s not the only big-ticket player who is on an expiring deal in Dallas either. Pavelski and Alexander Radulov are both pending unrestricted free agents, while Gurianov and Jason Robertson are both set to become restricted free agents.
Even while these rumors have swirled around Klingberg, his play has remained relatively strong. Through 26 games he is averaging almost 22 minutes a night and has 17 points. While there has been an obvious shift to Heiskanen as Dallas’ lead defenseman, Klingberg is still an extremely important part of the Stars’ roster, and a trade would certainly weaken them for any potential playoff push they have in mind.
With the win on Saturday, Dallas has now taken four in a row and climbed within one point of the Winnipeg Jets for fifth in the Central Division. The Stars are still six points behind the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche.