It's safe to say that the John Klingberg experiment has been an abject failure in Toronto, just 13 games into the season.
The 31 year old defenseman was signed as a free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs this past offseason, inking a one year, $4.15 million deal on the opening day of free agency. So far he has five assists in 14 games to start the campaign with the Leafs which doesn't sound awful, but he's been a defensive black hole since game 1. He sports a brutal -7 +/- stat line and is amongst the worst defensemen in the league by defensive metrics and analytics.
To put it bluntly: He stinks.
The trade rumors are already swirling around Klingberg in Toronto and they likely won't subside until he's either moved or he turns his season around. One of those two situations sounds a lot more likely than the other to me.
Nick Gosse of Leafs digest suggests a trade with the Calgary Flames, a rumor that he is now running with.
Check it out:
"The situation is so strange. Sheldon Keefe... was asked to elaborate on the John Klingberg injury situation. He refused to do so. He was supposed to be healthy a while ago and now he's traveling to Sweden but won't play with the team supposedly tomorrow. Are they holding him out for a trade? Are they holding him out because they don't want him on the ice because he's been horrible? Is the injury even real? Is it fake? All these questions are circulating and the situation is just getting super, super strange."
"In theory, who knows what's happening with Klingberg? All I do know is that this situation is getting weird. It's getting sketchy. It's getting scary a little bit if you're a Leafs fan, because I would rather at least see him play... But with all the rumors going around that he could be getting traded and could be getting traded very, very soon, that begs the question of how injured is he actually? Or is a trade incoming with Johhn Klingberg to the Calgary Flames or another team, depending on how they want to shore up that defensive line?"
- Nick Gosse
I assume a Klingberg trade with the Flames would center around someone like Nikita Zadorov or Chris Tanev coming back to Toronto? If that's the case, GM Brad Treliving will have to likely pony up some picks or prospects to go along with Klingberg and his $4.15 million cap hit. Stay tuned on that.
What makes matters even worse though is the fact that the Leafs apparently settled on Klingberg back on July 1st, with Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reporting that the team's first choice was veteran defenseman Matt Dumba over Klingberg. Once it became clear that the Leafs weren't going to get Dumba under contract for what they could sign Klingberg for, GM Brad Treliving moved on.
"I think the guy they really wanted on July 1st was Dumba," Friedman said. "I think they were in on him. Klingberg came in at $4.15 million, Dumba ended up in Arizona for $3.9 million, but I think at the time he was high in the fives (5 million range). I think Toronto really wanted him and they couldn't get the deal done because they couldn't fit Dumba where he wanted to be..."
"He was the guy (Toronto) talked to. He was the guy they wanted. But they couldn't fit him in for what he was asking."
As it played out, Dumba priced himself too high and ended up having to wait out the entire month of July before inking a one year, $3.9 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.
Now, no one is saying that Dumba is a perfect player or that he's the answer to all of the Leafs' problems, but he's a much more well rounded player than Klingberg and there's no denying that he would have fit the Leafs' system much better.
The one that got away...