- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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When the Dallas Stars drafted John Klingberg in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he wasn’t on the radar of most people. Now, a year later, the silky smooth Swedish defenseman is considered one of the team’s top prospects.
Klingberg became more prominent on the radar thanks to a stellar 2010-11 season. He was impressive at the junior level, registering 17 points (3 goals, 14 assists) in 13 games for Frolunda’s J20 team. He had one goal and 10 assists in seven postseason games and won MVP honors as his team won the league championship. He also was named to the Junior European Trophy All-Star Team after helping lead Frolunda to the tournament championship.
He played 26 games in the Swedish Elite league, registering five assists. And he played seven games for Boras in the HockeyAllsvenskan, the second highest level of hockey in Sweden.
“It was different teams, but it was fun,” said Klingberg, who attended Dallas' recent development camp in McKinney. “It was a good opportunity to keep going with my hockey.”
The Swedish Elite League was the big test for Klingberg, who had turned 18 just prior to the season. He averaged 12:34 of ice time with Frolunda, and got good reviews for his play.
“It was different hockey,” said Klingberg. “Higher speed and better players, of course. Make faster decisions. It was good for me to try that.”
He was also busy on the international front, playing more than 25 games for Sweden at various tournaments.
“I hadn’t played an international game before this season,” he said. “I got the chance early in the season and then the World Juniors. It was fun.”
At the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, he picked up one goal, one assist and a plus-two rating in six games. He’s expected to play for Sweden again at the 2012 World Juniors and is on the roster for Sweden’s summer junior camp, which will take place in Lake Placid, NY where teams from the USA, Sweden and Finland will play a series of exhibition games.
Klingberg will play next season with Jokerit in Finland’s top league. He said it’s a good step for him as he tries to climb the ladder to the NHL. The Finnish league is a quicker pace and the game is played on a smaller rink than in Sweden.
“That’s going be fun. It was a hard decision for me, whether I was going to play with Frolunda or Jokerit next season. But Jokerit is a good opportunity for me if I want to play in the NHL,” Klingberg said. “It’s a better step for me, maybe not for all players, but for me it’s better. I’m an offensive guy and they’ll let me play my own game there. It’s faster and you don’t get the time you get in Sweden and in Finland’s it’s the [smaller] rinks, too.”
The Stars are high on the highly skilled Klingberg, who signed an entry-level contract with the team last season.
“He has some really good skill and offensive attributes,” said Stars Director of Scouting and Player Development Les Jackson. “He has skill, poise, and a feel for the game offensively. He’s got high-end puck presence. He’s slippery, elusive. He has all those elements. … He has instincts and skill you can’t teach. It’s just a matter of maturity and time. He’s got a really good chance to move ahead.”
29dFrom the NHLPA