Though it had been trending this way for a while due to injury, illness, and the playoff race the Dallas Stars find themselves in, general manager Jim Nill made it clear Wednesday that John Klingberg and Braden Holtby will likely still be on the roster after Monday’s trade deadline. In fact, with regards to Holtby in particular, Nill was extremely clear that the veteran goaltender was completely off the market when he spoke with NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger.
I was never really actively shopping him. That was kind of more of the media. People were looking at our situation thinking we had an extra goalie. You never say never in case you get an overwhelming offer but the Khudobin surgery solidifies that Holtby is staying put.
That hip surgery that Nill references for Anton Khudobin will keep him out six months, meaning the Stars suddenly don’t have a ton of depth at the goaltending position despite coming into the year with too many options. Trading Holtby now would be risking everything on Jake Oettinger’s continued health (and continued strong play), and would leave Dallas with no legitimate NHL backup.
For Klingberg, things are still a little murkier, but Nill explained that for the Stars to succeed, the pending UFA defenseman needs to be there. He wouldn’t go so far as to say that he wouldn’t listen it’s not the same situation for Dallas as earlier in the year. When they were struggling, Klingberg was playing on the third pairing, and the playoffs seemed like a stretch, it made sense for teams to try and pry the 29-year-old out of the Stars’ lineup. But with Miro Heiskanen now out with mononucleosis and the team right in the hunt, Klingberg is back to playing nearly 25 minutes a game and leading the team’s offensive attack.
The term “own-rental” has been thrown around in recent years, and it appears as though that’s exactly what Klingberg represents for Dallas. An extension at this point hasn’t been negotiated and seems unlikely, but just as other playoff contenders are trading assets to acquire expiring contracts for a postseason run, the Stars will hold onto their own as they try to catch the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild-card position. They currently sit just one point out after losing their last three, but still have four games in hand over Vegas.
For teams looking at right-shot defensemen at the deadline, the market is quickly shrinking. Josh Manson was already traded to the Colorado Avalanche and now Klingberg is unlikely to go anywhere. While there is always a premium carried by true right-side options, that cost could climb even further in the next few days.