Viktor Stalberg Season Review: Dr. Stale-berg or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Speed
Signed in the off-season and hailed as the offensive savior for the Nashville Predators, the former 3rd liner for the Chicago Blackhawks had huge expectations...but you know what they say about the bigger the bubble...
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Simply put, Viktor Stalberg seemed to have all the tools for success in the NHL as a scorer. The main advantage he has over most in the league is game-breaking speed. Stalberg can burst past defenders and cause disruption in the offensive zone. His problem? Lack of finish. Sitting next to a Hawks fan at a game the year before the Predators got Stalberg, I commented to the fan that Stalberg has "amazing speed" and "no wonder Chicago is good from top to bottom." The fan said and I quote, "Sure Stalberg's fast...but he has hands of cement." This assessment still holds true and on a team like the Predators who lack true scoring talent, Stalberg found himself without the cushion of elite talent on the top two lines that helped to shelter his inability to bury the puck.
Nothing encapsulates Stalberg's potential with his speed leading the charge quite like the beauty against his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, to make it 5-2 en route to a 7-2 demolishing of the defending Cup champions:
The Road Ahead:
Stalberg has another three years left on his contract at a $3M cap hit. Many have commented extensively about Stalberg's failures to live up to the perceived potential. The length and price of this contract amongst many others (Cullen, Nystrom) have David Poile on the hot seat with this summer's draft and free agency being the ultimate test. Trotz' system is used as an example of why a player like Stalberg floundered, but with a new coach who excels at building offensive players and schemes, it is slightly possible Stalberg may yet reach that potential.
OTF Staff Grades:
What grade does Viktor Stalberg get?