John Klingberg said he feels underappreciated by the Dallas Stars in their approach to contract negotiations.
The defenseman, who is in the final season of a seven-year contract he signed April 17, 2015, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He said he believes Stars general manager Jim Nill hasn’t shown enough urgency on a contract since he was eligible to sign an extension after last season.
“Other guys have signed right before the season before. I wanted to do that as well,” Klingberg said after a 3-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. “Lately, it has been going more quietly and quietly. For me, as a player, I don’t feel that I’ve been appreciated in that way when we don’t even negotiate. It’s quiet.
“For me, as a player, my agent, we talked to Jim a couple months back. He agreed that we could start talking with other GMs and see where we were at. Negotiation-wise, the Stars have been very quiet.”
The Stars re-signed forwards Jamie Benn (eight years) in 2016 and Tyler Seguin (eight years) in 2018, one season before each could have become an unrestricted free agent.
“It’s not like I’ve been going out there and asking, ‘I want to get traded now,’ or something like that,” Klingberg said. “It’s something that’s been going on with the negotiations and stuff like that. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a few frustrating years individually. As a player, it all ends up coming to your next contract, obviously. I’ve been a Dallas Star since Day One.
“I’ve been pretty clear that I want to stay here. I grew up here. I had my daughter here and all that.”
Klingberg is in his eighth season with the Stars, who selected him in the fifth round (No. 131) of the 2010 NHL Draft. Although he said he would prefer to re-sign with them, the 29-year-old wonders how much they want to keep him with little progress in negotiations.
“They gave me one offer way back and they haven’t really moved at all,” Klingberg said. “On my side, on my agent’s side, I feel like we’ve been trying to move pieces, years, numbers and stuff like that. On our part, I feel like we’ve been trying to meet them in different ways. More and more, as it comes down to, it’s been more quiet. I don’t know really where they’re at, if they intend to sign me . … They have to make a decision if they see me as a future Dallas Star or what’s going on here.”
Klingberg has scored 17 points (one goal, 16 assists) in 26 games this season. He has scored 334 points (66 goals, 278 assists) in 504 regular-season games with the Stars and 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 52 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Klingberg scored 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 26 playoff games to help Dallas reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, when it lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
Klingberg hopes that the sides can work out a contract, but is unsure about his future with the Stars.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” he said. “I understand it’s a business on both sides. I’ve got to take care of my part as well. It’s been standing still. I feel like I wanted to (sign a new contract), after last season. I was pretty clear that I wanted to start negotiating right away and see where we were out. They wanted some time with free agency and draft and stuff like that. I understand that.
“At the same time, I feel like I’ve been here proving what kind of player I’ve been for eight years now.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Taylor Baird contributed to this report