As this summer's top free-agent defenseman, Dougie Hamilton inked a seven-year, $63-million contract with the New Jersey Devils. His contract could set the bar next July for the Dallas Stars' John Klingberg.
The 27-year-old Klingberg is entering the final season of a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million. He could become next summer's most coveted free-agent blueliner.
Several more well-known rearguards, like the Devils' P.K. Subban, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang and the Seattle Kraken's Mark Giordano. are also eligible for UFA status next summer. However, they're now in their thirties and past their playing prime.
Like Hamilton, Klingberg's a superb offensive defenseman, reaching or exceeding 40 points in his first five NHL seasons. He also netted over 30 points in over 50 games in each of the last two COVID-shortened campaigns.
Klingberg amassed 327 points since his NHL debut in 2014-15. Only Letang (351) has more. The Stars defenseman also had more points over that period than Hamilton (300), so it's a safe bet his representatives will use the Devils' defenseman as a comparable in contract talks.
The Dallas Morning News' Matthew DeFranks pointed out the Stars are already paying Miro Heiskanen $8.45- million annually, Esa Lindell $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million on long-term deals. Assuming Klingberg gets over $8 million per season, the Stars would have one of the league's most expensive bluelines.
With over $58.1 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23, the Stars must also re-sign or replace UFA forwards Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov and RFAs Denis Gurianov and Jason Robertson. If they can't afford Klingberg, he could become a trade candidate if they're out of playoff contention before the March trade deadline.