2013 Blackhawks Report Cards: Viktor Stalberg
Standard Regular Season Stats
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Advanced Regular Season Stats (5 on 5)
Standard Playoff Stats
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Advanced Playoff Stats (5 on 5)
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First off, would like to take a moment of silence for all those still mourning the loss of arguably one of the best playoff beards the Hawks had this season, Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg had a year where he showed flashes of brilliance followed by long stretches in Q's dog house. He was known as the bum slayer putting up multi-point games only twice this season, once against his favorite opponent the LOLumbus Blue Jackets (who only missed the playoffs by one spot) and the Dallas Stars.
But even with his top level speed, Stalberg couldn't seem to get things flowing the way he or the coaches wanted. Stalberg had only 9 goals this season and zero throughout the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch in 4 playoff games after some supposed grumblings about minutes and power play time. Stals spent most of his time during the season on the third line with Shaw and Bickell. Stalberg, but like most players on the Hawks was bounced around seeing time on the first line with Toews and Hossa. While he would be on the top line for brief periods he could never make it stick, and with the log jam that is the top end wing talent on the Blackhawks, seemed like he never would.
At the end of the season it was obvious to just about everyone that Stalberg either didn't want to come back nor was going to be asked to come back. On July 5th he signed a 4-year $12 million contract with the Nashville Predators. Stalberg will get a chance to prove his Chicago detractors wrong in Nashville where he will get a shot at top line minutes and power-play time. I could see Stalberg working his way up to a top line player in Nashville, especially for a team looking for a new identity after losing Ryan Suter and drafting Seth Jones. It all depends how Stals works with no-neck Trotz's defense first system and using his speed to break the Predators out of their zone.
His speed was always his greatest attribute and could fly north-south faster than just about any player in the league, but his hands have been suspect at best and it never seemed like his mind could keep up his feet. He would break out and be on the other side of the ice before you could blink but could never seem to consistently figure out what to do from there. He would take an early shot that would be easily turned away, or he would get steered into the corners and have no where to go with the puck.
Those Rattlesnake fans out there will still get plenty of opportunities to see Stalberg play, and it will be interesting to see how he is received by fans and the Blackhawks alike. I am especially looking forward to seeing Stalberg and Nick Leddy in a foot race for a loose puck. Some will argue that he never got a far shake, but to me, if he had what the Hawks were looking for, he wouldn't be in Nashville right now.
He had difficulty playing up to his 6'3 frame and shied away from a lot of the contact that the Hawks were looking for from him. Maybe it wasn't fair for people to be looking to him to be a physical presence but on a team of smaller skilled players, someone who is 6'3, 210 lbs is going to be looked at for those things. You could say his talent was being wasted on the third line but I think the Hawks would argue that the third line spot was wasted on Stalberg's talent. He was a square peg in a round hole on a team with very few holes. I wish him the best in Nashville and hope he continues slaying bums but the Hawks will be better without him.
Final Grade: C