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Catching up with John Klingberg

Klingberg is back in Dallas after an offseason that included some rest, training, golf, and travel.

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Dallas Stars

More Dallas Stars players joined the informal skates in Frisco this week, including defensemen John Klingberg , Stephen Johns , and Patrik Nemeth and forwards Cody Eakin , Curtis McKenzie , and Devin Shore.

"Nice to see all the guys around the rink," Klingberg said. "Some coaches are here and the trainers, so it is really fun to be back, and I've been looking forward to it for a while now."

Klingberg is back in Dallas after an offseason that included some rest, training, golf, and travel. He took a three-week break after last season before beginning workouts with his personal trainer in Sweden. The travel included a trip to the Dominican Republic for the wedding of Nemeth and one to Switzerland, where his brother, Carl, plays hockey.

Klingberg arrived in town this week, and there are changes on the personal front. There's a new house, and there will be a new addition to the family - a four-legged one - in the near future.

"There's a lot of exciting stuff now. We've got the house, and we are getting a dog soon," Klingberg said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be a fun year."

The dog? A Labrador. The color? Chocolate.

"My girlfriend is choosing," he said. "I enjoy dogs and she's had dogs her whole life. That's something for her to enjoy here when she is here with me. It's going to be fun to see a dog walking around our house."

Klingberg returns to a Stars team that will have a different look this season, including on defense. Veteran Dan Hamhuis , signed to a two-year contract in free agency, is the key addition.

"That's something we really want. He's had a lot of experience and is a really good player," Klingberg said. "He knows Lindy [Ruff] from before (World Championship and Olympics), so I think that's really good."

The Stars parted ways with defensemen Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, and Kris Russell and will look to younger players to fill out the roster spots on the blue line. Stephen Johns had a strong showing down the stretch last season. Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak , who were both on the roster last season, are expected to compete for more playing time. Esa Lindell, coming off a solid AHL season, is expected to be on the roster and push for ice time as well. There is young depth in the system.

"We have a lot of good young defensemen, and that is the strength for the future. That was something we had to change at some point, and I think it's really good," said Klingberg. "We've got Nemo, Oleksiak, Johns and Esa and [Julius Honka] and [Mattias] Backman. We've got a lot of guys. I don't even know all the names. It's exciting and something to look forward to. That's going to put a lot of pressure on me to take another step forward this year and that's exciting, too."

Klingberg is coming off an outstanding 2015-16 season. In his second NHL season, he ranked fifth among NHL defensemen in scoring with 58 points (10 goals, 48 assists) in 76 games.

"The first year (2014-15) everything was new and everyone was excited about my game. Last season, I took even one more step. I got to play a lot of defenseman minutes," Klingberg said. "I am going to keep trying to play the same way, take some more strides offensively, still have a good power play and maybe take some minutes on the penalty kill. Work on details every day and try to be a better overall player."

Klingberg finished sixth in the voting for last season's Norris Trophy, which goes to the league's top defenseman. Last month, The Hockey News ranked him 31st among all NHL players and eighth among defensemen.

But despite the excellent season and lofty praise, Klingberg wasn't selected to play for Sweden at the upcoming 2016 World Cup of Hockey. And that was a big disappointment.

"I am going to be honest, it was," he said. "I don't think I could have done anything different last year. I had a good year and in the playoffs, if the scoresheet wasn't the best, I think I actually played some of my best hockey in the playoffs. I got to play against all the top players and closed them down pretty good. I couldn't have done anything different to be on that team."

Klingberg added he was in a difficult spot when it came to landing a roster spot because Sweden already has two top notch offensive defensemen.

"It's also tough if you are there because you have to take away minutes from [Erik] Karlsson and [Oliver] Ekman-Larsson," Klingberg said. "That's really tough."

Still, Klingberg said not making the Swedish roster gives him extra motivation heading into this season.

"Yeah, it does," he said.

And right now the upcoming season, not the World Cup, is the focus for Klingberg. He and the Stars will try to build off last season when they finished with the best record in the Western Conference and came within one win of making it to the Western Conference Final.

"I thought we played pretty solid [in the playoffs], but it was just that last game," Klingberg said. "We are so excited to get back and start this over. We want to have a good start again and a good home record. Lots of excitement. We want to be even better this year."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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