Get wild: Defenseman John Klingberg (50% of the salary withheld by the Ducks)
The ducks get: 2025 fourth-round picks, Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterenko
Corey Pronman: Once considered a top defender, the roof quickly crumbled on Klingberg’s value in the league. He was only able to secure a one-year, $7 million contract this summer with Anaheim, and has now been traded at the deadline for a very small return. Klingberg has excellent skill and offensive creativity. His defensive game however has always been a problem and limits his even strength value due to his perfect skating and below average level of competition.
The offense hasn’t been there this season as much as in previous years to make up for it. He’s a good player, just one that needs to be used in a particular way now, as opposed to the former 23-plus-a-night guy he was in Dallas at one point.
Nesterenko is a talented college player with good hockey sense. It’s a nice prospect. He’s an average skater and he competes quite well. I wouldn’t say he stands out in any major area, though, and more of a “stands a chance of succeeding” type of prospect. It is believed he was not going to sign with the Wild and could become a free agent this summer if he so chooses.
It makes it look like the Wild pressed Anaheim in the 11th hour after Klingberg’s market wasn’t there.
wild rank: A-
Classification of ducks:VS
Luszczyszyn House: Prior to this season, the most goals against expected per 60 by a defenseman was 3.36 by Janis Moser of Arizona last season. The most goals expected per 60 by a striker was 3.66 by Auston Matthews last year.
It’s a necessary context to understand how many chances against John Klingberg have been on the ice this season: 4.15 expected goals against 60. He’s 0.8 expected goals less than the previous worst of all time. He’s half an expected goal worse than if a team faced Matthews at Hart Trophy level every shift. He was This bad for Anaheim, and it’s a continuation of last season where he obviously fell out of favor in Dallas.
Add a major reduction in offense to the equation plus a big hit and it’s easy to see why the Ducks couldn’t get much for Klingberg’s services. Within a year, he’s become a toxic asset, a player who hurts his team’s winning chances rather than helps. An extremely risky target.
But if there was one team that could potentially make a Klingberg trade work, it’s the ever-stingy Wild, a defensive factory who can give Klingberg the support and structure to iron out his warts. Klingberg may be one of the worst defensive backs in the league right now, but that’s going to be a lot harder to spot with a capable defensive back. The Wild have a few ready and could give Klingberg the perfect place to find his game.
One of Minnesota’s biggest needs was a fullback puck shooter – someone the Wild could trust. The Wild have the 10th-best power play in the league, but don’t trust defenseman Calen Addison outside of that role. Klingberg — in a heavily guarded role — could be a much-needed improvement in both facets: on the power play and as a five-on-five puck passer. Despite his warts, Klingberg can still move the puck well and at Minnesota he should have a lot more help to do it safely.
This decision is not without risks – Klingberg was bad this season — but the advantage is clear given Klingberg’s pedigree and Minnesota’s needs. Given what he’s been through in recent years, a rebound in the right environment isn’t ruled out if the question. Minnesota feels like the right environment.
wild rank: B+
Classification of ducks:B
(Photo: Rick Osentoski/USA Today)