Insider Reveals Who The Leafs Really Wanted in Free Agency Instead of Klingberg

Graham Montgomery
November 9, 2023  (5:24 PM)

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a number of significant moves this offseason including the addition of defenseman John Klingberg. Now we know who the Leafs really wanted.

NHL Insider Reveals Klingberg Was Not Maple Leafs First Choice

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported on Leafs Morning Take this morning that John Klingberg was not the Leafs' first target for UFA defenseman. Instead, the team reportedly wanted a blueliner that ended up signing with the Coyotes instead.
"I think the guy they really wanted on July 1st was Dumba," Friedman said. "I think they were in on him. Klingberg came in at $4.15 million, Dumba ended up in Arizona for $3.9 million, but I think at the time he was high in the fives (5 million range). I think Toronto really wanted him and they couldn't get the deal done because they couldn't fit Dumba where he wanted to be."

Dumba ultimately signed a one-year 3.9 million dollar deal with the Coyotes while the Leafs settled for one year of Klingberg at 4.15 million dollars. This begs the question of how money was in issue if Dumba ended up getting less but there are other factors at play here such as taxes and player preference. Perhaps Dumba was asking for more to play in Toronto as a way to compensate himself for the increased scrutiny of the Toronto media market.

Klingberg Not Fitting In With Leafs

So far Klingberg has not played very well for Toronto. His defensive game makes Erik Karlsson look like a two-way defenseman and the offense has been mediocre to say the least with 5 assists through 13 games.
Klingberg played just 15:41 against the Senators in the Leaf's last game despite the team dealing with injuries on the blueline. Even then he still managed to get a plus minus rating of -3. His only other mark on the scoresheet was a single blocked shot. Leafs fans have not been easy on him as a result of his poor play.
As seen on Report: Maple Leafs 'Wanted' Defenseman Matt Dumba During Free Agency This Summer
November 9   |   251 answers
Insider Reveals Who The Leafs Really Wanted in Free Agency Instead of Klingberg

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