If you knew the Dallas Stars organization, then you knew about John Klingberg. He was their best kept secret, playing over in Sweden out of the North American spotlight.
He seemed to filled a void on the blue-line in Dallas but also showed the rest of the league that he was for real. His vision is two steps ahead of everyone else on the ice, he just processes the game at a faster rate. Going into the corner after a loose puck, he's already scanned the ice and knows his next play.
He finished last year with 40 points (11G, 29A) in just 65 games. He had less than 80 games played in the North American style game, including 13 games in the AHL with the Texas Stars before being called up to the NHL squad. The Calder Trophy winner for rookie of the year, Aaron Ekblad, finished the year with 39 points (12G, 27A) and sits with just three points this year. Ekblad, who grew up in Canada and played the NA style his whole life, beat out Klingberg for the hardware by a 71 first place vote margin. Klingberg finished fifth in the voting, not getting a single first place ballot.
Back in his sophomore year, fresh off a seven-year contract extension signed over the summer, he looks poised to do some damage. He's racked up 11 points in 11 games (2G, 9A) after a slow start. He's now on a seven-game point streak collecting nine points in that time. He sits tied for second in defensemen scoring, one point behind Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. Those two have also logged two more games than young Klingberg and average about one more shift per game.
John Klingberg has impressed a lot of people on his way and looks to become the solution to the Dallas Stars problems on defense. Often compared to fellow Sweden native Erik Karlsson, he embraces the challenge to become a number one defenseman in this league. With Alex Goligoski as a line-mate and mentor, he's really growing into something special. He is as good offensively as any defenseman in the league and his defensive game isn't far behind. Still learning but never looks out of place, a promising aspect for such a young and inexperienced player. Klingberg got his offensive tendencies from playing as a winger growing up and didn't start playing defense until he was 15-years-old.
With his team rolling along at a steady clip, sitting atop the Western Conference, they look to stretch their win streak to four games coming into Ontario to play the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. With a supporting cast of the NHL leader in points, Jamie Benn, and the co-leader in assists, Tyler Seguin, he could take a real run at the James Norris Trophy if he keeps on this pace and continued improvement.