ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks are close to signing John Klingberg, the top defenseman on the NHL free agent market, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the Ducks and Klingberg haven’t finalized every detail of the deal to bring the offensive-minded Swede from Dallas to Orange County.
Klingberg has spent his entire NHL career with the Stars, racking up 71 goals and 303 assists in eight seasons as one of the league’s better offensive defensemen. He had six goals and 41 assists for playoff-bound Dallas last season, although he was a career-worst minus-28.
Klingberg’s offensive skills and shot-blocking capability would give a boost to the Ducks, who could also use his right-handed shot and puck movement on the power play. Klingberg scored 20 points while Dallas had the man advantage last season, and he has 148 career points on the power play.
Klingberg, who turns 30 next month, had been seeking a long-term contract in free agency as the league’s top available defenseman, but nothing apparently materialized. If he agrees to a one-year deal, Klingberg could hit the free agent market again with a chance for the term that Dallas and other suitors wouldn’t meet this summer.
His arrival will be another part of a fairly major roster makeover for Anaheim since Pat Verbeek took over as general manager during last season.
Verbeek traded longtime Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson near the trade deadline after determining he didn’t want to sign the pending free agents to long-term deals, but he had hoped to sign a veteran defenseman this summer to boost the group led by Cam Fowler, the Ducks’ top-scoring blueliner last year with 42 points.
Anaheim has missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, but the Ducks appear to be primed for improvement in the fall. Verbeek signed center Ryan Strome and right wing Frank Vatrano in free agency to play alongside Anaheim’s talented young core, which includes gifted forwards Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry and defenseman Jamie Drysdale.
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