Heading into this offseason, there were few notable free agent defencemen, so most expected John Klingberg – one of the game’s better offensive blueliners for over half a decade – to get paid handsomely. However, now two weeks into free agency, the 29-year-old remains without a contract.
While there is no doubt that Klingberg will be on an NHL team for the 2022-23 season, he won’t get the deal he or anyone in the hockey community expected. Still, there are teams with ample cap space that could use a power-play specialist, and the former Dallas Stars defenceman fits that bill perfectly. Here are the three most probable teams to add him before the 2022-23 season.
At this point, the Seattle Kraken seems to be Klingberg’s most likely destination. The NHL’s newest team struggled in their inaugural 2021-22 season, but they have a great chance to improve in 2022-23. Not only did they select Shane Wright fourth overall at the 2022 NHL Draft, but they also signed Andre Burakovsky and traded for Oliver Bjorkstrand.
However, the Kraken have done little to improve their blue line so far this offseason. While they added Justin Schultz via free agency, they could still improve, and there is no better option than Klingberg. He would not only be able to play top-four minutes at even strength but could also quarterback their top power-play unit, which struggled immensely this past season.
The Kraken have just over $2.2 million in cap space, which wouldn’t be enough to sign Klingberg. However, that doesn’t account for Chris Driedger’s $3.5 million cap hit, which will be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) after the netminder recently had ACL surgery. That should open up enough space to sign the Swedish rearguard if they wish to do so.