The Dallas Stars appear set to make a major impact on this season's trade deadline, as recent reports suggest they're ramping up efforts to deal disgruntled blue-liner John Klingberg.
Klingberg is a pending unrestricted free agent and one of the most high-profile rentals said to be available. The Stars are likely to field several offers from contenders looking to add such an enticing piece for the stretch run.
It's become custom for financially strapped buyers to perform major cap gymnastics to make deadline deals work, and Klingberg's situation is no different. The 29-year-old carries a $4.25-million cap hit and a base salary of $6 million, according to CapFriendly. However, suitors could swindle a significant discount if they can get Dallas to retain some money and/or use a third party to eat a chunk of it, which would bring the cap hit down to as low as $1.0625 million. That, and the ever-popular use of long-term injured reserve come the postseason, makes Klingberg's market bigger than it may appear.
Despite the money being manageable, Klingberg still won't come cheap. There are premiums on defensemen - especially right-handed shots with 60-point potential - during deadline season, so it's reasonable to expect Dallas wanting a first-round pick and a high-end prospect, at the very least. That price will only go up if Klingberg agrees to an extension with his new club.
Klingberg isn't without his flaws, though. As great as he is offensively, he's posted rather alarming defensive metrics over the last three seasons.
Still, Klingberg's upside will be too difficult for some contenders to ignore, and if he lands with the right team, he could be the final piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle. Below, we analyze the five most logical destinations:
The Hurricanes are the most obvious members of this list because they're the only team that's actually been linked to Klingberg so far. They reportedly contacted the Stars about his availability back in November.
The fit is obvious: Carolina let Dougie Hamilton walk in the offseason and tried to replace him by committee with the additions of DeAngelo and Ethan Bear. That's worked to an extent. Both players have flaws, but they've played relatively well all things considered. Still, it'd be worrisome for a team with championship aspirations to enter the playoffs with one of them in its top four.
Klingberg is a proven playoff performer who's registered 30 points in his last 39 postseason contests. His combination of experience and upside would make it a gamble worth taking for the Canes, who seem to elevate every newcomer they welcome in.