Leading up to July 5th, the first day of NHL free agency, we will be profiling various free agents that we believe the Predators could or should pursue. Today we continue with Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg…
Position: Right Wing
2012-13 Stats: 47 GP, 9 G, 14 A, 23 PTS, +16
2011-12 Stats: 79 GP, 22 G, 21 A, 43 PTS, +6
Previous Contract: 2 years, $1.75 million
Projected Cap Number: From $2.5-3.5 million
Why the Preds should pursue: Viktor Stalberg may not be a “bang for your buck” player, but of the free agent forwards we’ve been discussing he is probably the cheapest option. Chicago is unlikely to re-sign him because of their salary cap situation. Stalberg is one of the fastest skaters in the league and can create offense with that speed. He’s coming off his two best NHL seasons and is just 27 years old, so there are definitely some pros to signing him compared to some veterans. The Predators’ biggest strength in 2011-12 was its depth, and signing Stalberg would certainly add depth to the current lineup.
Why the Preds shouldn’t pursue: The talent is certainly there, but the biggest knock on Stalberg’s game is his inconsistency. One night he’s effective, the next he’s invisible. That inconsistency (and a lack of production) left him in the press box for a handful of playoff games this spring. His average ice time dipped from a respectable 14:07 in the regular season to 10:35 in the postseason. Other negatives are that he plays smaller than his 6-foot-3 frame would suggest and has been a beneficiary of the players around him.
Where he would fit: Stalberg’s ceiling is the second line but is better suited on the third line. If Barry Trotz can work his magic and get more consistency out of him than others, Stalberg might be a valuable secondary producer in Nashville. Hypothetically, putting Stalberg on a line with Gabriel Bourque would allow the two of them to wreak havoc with speed and tenacity.