- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
John Klingberg is no longer Dallas’ little secret. The 23-year old Swedish defenseman played his way into the Calder Trophy discussion last season after leading all rookie blue liners with 40 points and finishing with 11 goals.
Klingberg hoped to make the roster last season, and when he did that led to rookie stardom. That rise didn’t affect Klingberg as he headed into his sophomore season. As of Saturday morning, he’s scored five times and recorded 27 points, good enough for fifth overall in NHL scoring.
“It’s fun when you see magazines and newspapers writing about you,” Klingberg told Puck Daddy earlier this week. “I think I gained some experience with that in Sweden, too, playing at the World Juniors and won the cup there and also won the cup in the Swedish Elite League before I was coming over there. You have to get more experience with it, but it’s fun.”
Hip surgery in the summer of 2014 kept Klingberg from having a full off-season of working out. Free of any ailments this past summer allowed him to go harder in the gym and fully prepare for the 2015-16 campaign.
“I don’t think I’m there yet in my workout where I want to be, but it’s been a lot better to help me through the season so far,” he said.
We spoke to Klingberg about his sophomore season, his chemistry with defense partner Alex Goligoski, 3-on-3 overtime and more.
Q. Did the limited off-season last year affect you in any way?
KLINGBERG: “Maybe early in the season, coming to camp I wasn’t ready. I kind of had my first real practice when the camp started and I was a rookie and of course I had to play as good as I can. When I got sent down I wasn’t disappointed, I didn’t expect myself to start playing in the NHL [to start the season] before I played in the minors. It was good for me to come back down to Texas there and play 10 games and get confidence and start to feel better in the hips.”
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in your second season?
“For me, I was pretty happy with my rookie season and came into this season feeling pretty good. I just felt like I shouldn’t change anything, just keep playing the same way as I did last year and try to keep it as simple as possible … Obviously the team has been doing really good so far this year, it’s been helping a lot. It’s been helping my confidence playing with those guys on the power play with a team that’s winning.”
You’re once again paired with Alex. What is it about his game that helps you?
“We help each other a lot on the ice. We talk all the time on the ice and even after every game … He’s a great guy and a leader on our team. He’s been a good mentor to me.”
What makes for good chemistry between defensemen?
“If you look at a guy like Alex, he’s a guy that can play with anyone. He’s so good. You know what you’re going to get from him all the time. He doesn’t [make] any mistakes during the game at all. He’s not the biggest guy but he’s probably one of the best defenders in the league in my opinion. He has a great stick. He’s working hard and battling hard every time he’s on the ice. He has a really good first pass.
“For me, I think he’s an underrated player. That’s been helping me because I don’t think he gets the attention that I think he deserves. I think if he were to play with another guy he would probably be playing the same way. It’s been awesome to play with him.”
It’s still early but your name has been brought up in Norris Trophy talk. What goes through your mind when you hear your name being thought of in such high regard?
“Obviously, it’s a lot of fun but that’s nothing I’m thinking about. I have seen some articles saying that but that’s because I’ve been putting up some points and that’s how my game is. It’s fun, but I don’t try to think about it and I don’t think I’m the best defenseman in the league at all. I don’t expect myself to win and it’s fun to be mentioned, but nothing I’m thinking about at all.”
How much has the fact that you were a forward earlier in your career played a role in your offensive mind as a defenseman?
“Yeah, I think so. I switched to be when I was 15 and I was kind of an offensive forward but I could also play center and get back down deep in my own zone when I played there as a kid. I think I’ve been playing the same way as a D that I used to play when I was a forward, try to do stuff and be patient with the puck. I think that’s been helping with my offensive game. Those last couple of years when I switched to D I’ve been working really hard to get better in the defensive game and be better at all the decision-making on the ice.”
Finally, as a defenseman, how do you feel about 3-on-3 overtime?
“I actually like it a lot. We haven’t lost in the 3-on-3 yet [Ed. note: Dallas dropped their first OT game of the year Friday night to Edmonton], so it’s been fun for us, of course. When I’ve been playing on the ice in the games I’ve been playing with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: