Jim Nill knows a good thing when he sees it and has agreed to terms with his most valuable restricted free agent.
The Dallas Stars’ general manager has locked up standout rookie defenceman John Klingberg to a seven-year deal worth $29.75 million, the team announced Friday morning.
Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News was first to report the news.
“John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that few in this League can match,” Nill said in a release.
“He fits in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was felt immediately. We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenceman.”
The signing continues the trend of NHL teams committing early to the talented young defencemen in their stable before they hit unrestricted free agency.
The deal carries an average annual salary of $4.25 million, according to Heika.
The 22-year-old Klingberg paced all rookie defencemen in scoring this season with 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 65 games. His average ice time of 21:50 per game placed him third among all NHL freshmen. He set new Stars records for most goals, assists and points in a single season by a rookie blueliner.
Selected in the fifth round (131st overall) of 2010 NHL Draft, the native of Gothenburg, Sweden, played in both the Swedish and Finnish elite leagues before coming to North America this season.
He also captured a gold medal with Sweden at the 2012 world junior tournament — and will play for his home country in the upcoming world championships.
The six-foot-two Klingberg had double hip surgery last summer, so he started the 2014-15 season in the AHL, where he scored 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 10 games. He was then elevated to the NHL and became a regular for the Stars.
Klingberg could have become an RFA on July 1. The new deal takes Klingberg to the end of the 2021-22 season and gives him the longest-term contract on the Stars roster.