The Nashville Predators were among the more active teams when the first day of free agency opened up. In need of an offensive overhaul, the Preds signed multiple forwards, including Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks, and Eric Nystrom. But that list doesn’t include the most intriguing signing of the day.
The Preds likely see their big prize of the day as former Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg. The speedy forward wore out his welcome in Chicago with a poor playoff performance, with the Predators grabbing him off the market with a four-year deal, worth $12 million total.
As far as the market, that’s probably what should have been expected for Stalberg, even with his serving as a healthy scratch multiple times during the Hawks’ run to another Stanley Cup title. But just how he’ll fit in with this Predators team isn’t entirely clear, at least at this point.
Stalberg has pretty decent upside, and wasn’t given the opportunity to realize his offensive potential in Chicago, an opportunity which he we be afforded with the Predators. But will he really? This is a team built around defense, and Stalberg’s is rather lackluster. What he brings to the table is something we’re not used to seeing with this Nashville club.
He has unbelievable speed, easily coming in as one of the league’s fastest players. He has size to go along with it, making him a tough matchup from that standpoint. But he doesn’t use his size particularly well, and his play in his own end is pretty shoddy as well, making him a somewhat confusing fit for the Predators.
The Predators were obviously looking to upgrade big time on the offensive end, which is why they signed four forwards on the first day of free agency, even though not all four of them exactly scream offensive success. Stalberg is an intriguing piece though. How the Predators plan to utilize him will be interesting to see him, and he has an opportunity to succeed, if what David Poile has already said about him is any indication.
He’ll get a big time opportunity to succeed, likely in the top six, for the Predators. Whether or not that will translate to success in this type of system remains to be seen.