Frozen Pool Forensics: John Klingberg

by Cam Robinson on November 13, 2015

Is John Klingberg the next Erik Karlsson?

John Klingberg is the first defenseman being covered this season on Frozen Pool Forensics, and without a doubt he has earned such a lofty distinction. Klingberg took the NHL by storm last season totalling 40 points in 65 games as a rookie defender for the Dallas Stars. His performance garnered a fifth-place finish for the Calder Trophy and he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. It was a whirlwind season for the slight, puck-moving defender from Lerum, Sweden; one that didn’t even begin in the NHL. 

The 2010 fifth-round pick first crossed the pond at the tail end of the 2012-13 season when he suited up for a single playoff game for the AHL’s Texas Stars. 2013-14 saw him play his final season for Frölunda HC of the SHL and then it was off to North America for good. Klingberg made a strong impression during the 2014-15 training camp but was ultimately sent down to Texas to begin the season. From that point on, Klingberg has produced at a torrid pace. After 12 points in 10 games in the minors, Dallas saw fit to recall Klingberg, and right out of the gate, he impressed with his strong skating ability, quick outlet passes and ability to get the puck on net.

As we can see using Dobber’s Frozen Pool Line Mates Tool, this season Klingberg has played over 90% of his even-strength shifts with veteran defenseman, Alex Goligoski on the top pair. The two found chemistry last season by playing together for close to 72% of even-strength shifts.

2014-15

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

71.66%

EV

GOLIGOSKI,ALEX – KLINGBERG,JOHN

6.09%

EV

KLINGBERG,JOHN – NEMETH,PATRIK

4.85%

EV

– KLINGBERG,JOHN

4.13%

EV

JOKIPAKKA,JYRKI – KLINGBERG,JOHN

3.56%

EV

BENN,JORDIE – KLINGBERG,JOHN

 

2015-16

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

90.37%

EV

GOLIGOSKI,ALEX – KLINGBERG,JOHN

2.77%

EV

JOKIPAKKA,JYRKI – KLINGBERG,JOHN

2.77%

EV

KLINGBERG,JOHN – ODUYA,DAVID JOHNNY

1.45%

EV

DEMERS,JASON – KLINGBERG,JOHN

1.19%

EV

BENN,JORDIE – KLINGBERG,JOHN

In addition to the first-pairing title, Klingberg also mans the point on the notoriously potent Stars power play. He averages 3:09 of power-play time per game with a five-man unit consisting of reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, Jamie Benn; arguably the most valuable fantasy asset, Tyler Seguin; sharp-shooter Patrick Sharp (pardon the pun) and premier set-up man, Jason Spezza. Together the unit has produced at a 28.5% clip – good for second best in the league.

By glancing at his Frozen Pool Profile Page, we can see that Klingberg has tallied 15 points in just 16 games, seven of which have come with the man advantage. He is on pace for 76 total points with 35 on the power play. These type of numbers have recently been the exclusive property of Erik Karlsson, but even he is left playing second fiddle when compared to Klingberg this season, as we can see by this Compare-A-Player feature pitting the two Swedish stars against one another.

What’s even more impressive is that Klingberg has been doing all this while seeing his shooting percentage dip down from 11.2% a year ago, to 6.7% this year; his offensive zone start percentage being down from 47% to 43% and his pace for both hits and blocked shots are up.

Signed to what appears to be a fantastically-priced long-term deal with Dallas that runs through the 2021-22 season at a cap hit of $4.25 million, the sky is the limit for the former forward-turned-defenseman. This 23-year-old is well on his way to challenging Karlsson, and the handful of other premier defenders in the league for a bid at the Norris Trophy. Owners should rest assured that not only is his production sustainable, but we have yet to see the best from this spectacular sophomore.

 

Outlook for the remaining schedule: 0.75 – 0.9 point-per-game pace.