The worst is confirmed for John Klingberg
Toronto Maple Leafs  

The worst is confirmed for John Klingberg

Some sobering news from the Leafs on the defenseman's future.



It's safe to say that the John Klingberg experiment has been an abject failure in Toronto, just 14 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.

And today the Leafs placed him on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) in an effort to give themselves some cap relief while he seeks treatment for what appears to be a nagging hip injury.

From the Leafs:

The Leafs will now get full relief from Klingberg's cap hit.

Many Leafs fans are reacting to this news with positivity, since Klingberg has been so terrible in his short stint with the team. Other fans around the league though are skeptical that Klingberg even has an injury to begin with and are accusing the Leafs of burying his cap hit on 'Robidas Island' a fictional place where former Leafs defenseman Stephane Robidas was banished to in order to save on the cap. Ditto for Matt Murray, but that's an entirely other matter.

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe says that Klingberg is "working through things to determine what's next for him."

To me, that's confirmation from the coach that Klingberg is done with the Leafs.

The fact of the matter is that the Leafs have a tendency to make their major cap problems simply go away with assignments to LTIR and it hardly seems like the NHL cares to look into these situations. Then again... this is a league that watched the Tampa Bay Lightning sit out there superstar scorer for an entire season with a fake injury.

Earlier this month, there were trade rumors that Klingberg was headed West in a trade with the Calgary Flames. From Nick Gosse of Leafs Digest:

"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 that 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.

From Friedman:

"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...

Source: Toronto Maple Leafs