Stars' Klingberg didn't expect to be offered long-term deal

Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg wasn't expecting general manager Jim Nill to offer him a long-term contract after one season in the NHL.

Klingberg signed a seven-year, $29.75-million deal in April, and it caught the 23-year-old off guard.

"I was a little bit surprised. I thought maybe a two-year or three-year deal, somewhere there," Klingberg told Mark Stepneski of the team's official website.

"I talked to my agent, and he said Jim wanted to make a long-term deal, and I was really surprised. I was happy because I knew they were happy with how I played and wanted to sign me for a long time. It's exciting when you know they trust you, and they think you can be a good player."

He led all rookie blue-liners in assists (29) and points (40) in 2014-15. His 11 goals ranked second behind Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who played 16 more games.

Klingberg didn't make the Stars' NHL roster out of training camp last season because he was recovering from hip surgery. After registering 12 points in 10 games with the AHL's Texas Stars, the NHL club recalled him in November.

"I learned a lot, it was a lot of good experience last year," he said.

"With the good start I had and then the little bounce back and then to come back again, I think I played pretty good the whole year. I can't put a finger on it, but I learned a lot the last year. It was a good year, and I am excited to start up again this year."

Klingberg is an offensively gifted defenseman, but he is making defense a priority.

"We talked about that at a season-ending meeting," he said. "We have to be good (at being) defense-first because we know we have players who can put up points, so we have to be responsible with the defense first."

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Stars' Klingberg didn't expect to be offered long-term deal
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