As we still wait for the summer to start picking up for the Chicago Blackhawks, if it’s going to at all, we still are left wondering what direction the front office is going to be heading in this summer.
It doesn’t appear that many players from the current roster will be finding new homes for next season, pending some sort of big move for a marquee player. Of the names that could be dealt, however, Viktor Stalberg is one to keep an eye on.
Stalberg had something of a breakout year in 2011-2012, after a disappointing first campaign with the Hawks. His second season in Chicago was anything but disappointing, as he posted 22 goals and 43 points on the season, providing some of the Hawks limited secondary scoring.
The fact that Stalberg proved he could be an important piece is both a positive and a negative for the Hawks. The positive is obvious. His size and ridiculous speed are an asset to the team. He’s a guy that can replace some of that big time secondary scoring that was lost with the several players that were forced to depart due to the salary cap strain after the Stanley Cup title.
On the negative side, Stalberg is a free agent after next year. Right now, he’s on a cheap deal, pulling in six figures. But another season of 40-plus points and he’s going to be a very popular commodity out on the free agent market, which could price him out of the Blackhawks’ range.
That pretty much leaves the Hawks with two options. They can look at signing him to an extension this summer. It’d likely come on the cheaper side of things and an extra two or three years in Chicago would really help Stalberg cash in when he’s pushing 30, assuming that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Or the Blackhawks could look at trading him this summer. His name has been mentioned in connection with the bigger names, if the Hawks were to get into the discussion for a guy like Joe Pavelski. But that seems unlikely right now, given the first big chip on the trade market (Rick Nash) hasn’t been moved yet and we still don’t know how the big trades are going to play out.
It’s going to be a bit before we know the future of Viktor Stalberg, and whether or not there is one that has him in Chicago. I do think that locking him up for a few extra years beyond the 2012-13 season makes more sense than anything, but either way I’d expect we have an idea of his fate before the summer is over.