Friday’s NHL: Ducks sign defenseman Klingberg for 1 year, $7 million

Detroit News

Anaheim, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks signed John Klingberg to a one-year, $7 million contract on Friday, landing the top defenseman on the NHL free agent market.

The offensive-minded Swede is leaving Dallas, where he had spent his entire NHL career while racking up 71 goals and 303 assists in eight seasons with the Stars. He had six goals and 41 assists last season, although he was a career-worst minus-28.

Klingberg’s offensive skills and shot-blocking capability give an immediate boost to the Ducks, who can also use his right-handed shot and puck movement on the power play. Klingberg scored 20 points while Dallas had the man advantage last season, and he has 148 career points on the power play.

“We are extremely excited to add John to our group,” Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said. “John is a gifted player who can quarterback a power play and give us needed scoring from the blueline. He also adds veteran leadership and character to our team.”

Klingberg has been recognized as one of the league’s better offensive defensemen since the 2020 playoffs, when he scored 21 points in 26 postseason games while Dallas reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Klingberg, who turns 30 next month, had been seeking a long-term contract in free agency as the league’s top available defenseman, but nothing apparently materialized. Instead, he will have a chance to showcase his skills with the up-and-coming Ducks, who had plenty of room under the salary cap to accommodate a lucrative one-year deal with significant upside for the team.

His arrival will be another part of a fairly major roster makeover for Anaheim since Verbeek took over the front office during last season. Verbeek traded longtime Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson near the trade deadline after determining he didn’t want to sign the pending free agents to long-term deals, but he had hoped to add a veteran defenseman this summer to boost the group led by Cam Fowler.

Anaheim has missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, but the Ducks appear to be primed for improvement in the fall. Verbeek signed center Ryan Strome and right wing Frank Vatrano in free agency to play alongside Anaheim’s talented young core, which includes gifted forwards Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry and defenseman Jamie Drysdale.

Rangers agree with Kakko

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Kaapo Kakko on a two-year contract worth $4.2 million.

The deal with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft carries an annual salary cap hit of $2.1 million. General manager Chris Drury announced the agreement Thursday.

Kakko played in 43 games last season, recording seven goals and 11 assists with a plus-nine rating. The 21-year-old Finn also had two goals and three assists in 19 games during the Rangers’ unexpected run to the Eastern Conference final.

Kakko has skated in 157 career NHL games, putting up 26 goals and 32 assists. His best season was his rookie year in 2019-20, when he had 10 goals and 13 assists in 66 games.

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