There is no hiding the fact that the signing by General Manager Brad Treliving to bring John Klingberg into the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has not worked out thus far.
The first year Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman has struggled to find an elite level that is expected from a powerplay quarterback on a Stanley Cup contending team.
Just two seasons ago, Klingberg turned down an eight-year deal worth $56 Million ($7 Million per season) as it was believed he was seeking closer to $8 Million a year.
The Swedish defenseman would hit free agency and have to settle for a one-year deal for $7 Million from the lowly Anaheim Ducks.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Is John Klingberg Finally Sliding Out of Town?
This past summer, Treliving quickly signed Klingberg on the first day of free agency to a one-year deal worth $4.15 Million and to say it has not worked out yet would be an understatement.
Coach Sheldon Keefe has given the veteran defenseman every opportunity to succeed as he has been played both in the top four and given top powerplay minutes.
Almost any defenseman could succeed on a Maple Leafs powerplay that sees Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Auston Matthews and John Tavares as options, yet Klingberg has just two assists through nine games and over 33 minutes played with the man advantage.
Coming into the season, the one area Klingberg was credited with being his strong suit was the powerplay and his decision making with the puck. Thus far, Klingberg has struggled with puck movement as he has been too indecisive with the puck and holding onto it just a little too long.
Add in that he is struggling to get shots through when the team has more players on the ice as he has just two shots of his eight shots getting through to the net with the rest being blocked while on the powerplay, a change needed to be made.
Morgan Rielly Takes Over On Powerplay
Tuesday night, with the Toronto Maple Leafs down 3-0 in the third period, Keefe went back to Morgan Rielly on the first powerplay unit, which responded with John Tavares collecting his fifth goal on the season.
If Klingberg can’t be trusted to run the first powerplay unit and is now relegated to the third pairing, his large cap that is already cumbersome for the team may finally be force Treliving to make a move.
The good part of Klingberg’s contract is that almost half the contract was paid in the summer leaving $2.15 Million needing payment through the season and with over 10% of the season already in the books a team would be left with under $2 Million to pay on a $4.15 Million cap hit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs might be able to get out from under the contract and a bottom feeding team could take a chance on Klingberg to see if they could get more out of him and then trade him at the deadline to get some future assets.