Viktor Stalberg has been very unhappy with his playing time the past few months. On Thursday he wasn't pulling any punches and basically said he will be playing for whatever team that will give him the most consistent playing time.
I think over the last three years I've showed I deserve to play maybe more times than I got an opportunity to do here, I think that's just how it is. You're on one of the best teams, and you have some of the best players in the world in front of you. That's what it is. That's great, but maybe at some point in your career you want to see what else is out there and what other role you can get and see for yourself how good you can allow yourself to be. I think that's a thing we're going to see if that's the fit here. If it's not, it might be somewhere else.
That doesn't sound like someone who will be playing in Chicago next season, does it?
Stalberg came over from Toronto in exchange for Kris Versteeg, three seasons ago. Since then he has progressed nicely but has seen very little time on the powerplay. He also saw his playing time drop in the playoffs and was even a healthy scratch four times this postseason.
He has elite speed and is arguably one of the fastest players in the league. He has the skill to be a top-6 forward and probably would have put together back to back 20 goal seasons if not for the lockout. All those things also put him in line for a pay raise, which is something the Hawks probably can't do.
This past season he mad $875,000. I would be shocked if he isn't making twice that next season.
Chicago has plenty of players ready to take Stalberg's roster spot. Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith are the first two guys who come to mind. Both have had stints with the big club and would like to finally make the move permanent.
Stalberg however started to soften his tone a bit towards the end of his time with the media on Thursday.
We'll see what happens. I love it here. It's been great these three years, but we'll see what we take it from here. I got to make a decision, and they got to make a decision, so we'll see. We shouldn't jump to conclusions. You never know what's going to happen. There's still a lot of possibilities here as well. There's a lot of things that can happen moving guys or whatever they decide to do around this locker room. We'll see what happens
Unless the Hawks move someone like Hossa, Kane, Sharp or Saad, I don't see a chance for Stalberg to move up. Therefore I think Stalberg will find another roster more willing to give him a chance. Also he isn't the highest priority on the Hawks list. With Bryan Bickell, an unrestricted free agent ,and Nick Leddy & Marcus Kruger,both restricted, there are bigger priorities.
So unless something crazy happens or Stalberg realizes that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, then come July 5 it will be time to say goodbye to #25, Viktor Stalberg.