Re-Signing Stalberg Gives Stan An Ace In The Hole

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America



According to their website, the Chicago Blackhawks have re-signed 25 year old forward Viktor Stalberg to a two-year extension. Per Adam Jahns, the deal is worth $1.75M over two years / $875K per season.

Score another victory for Stan Bowman. In a market where mediocre players continue to get paid, this is a very cap-friendly contract. Yes, Stalberg was an RFA, but I was expecting somewhere in the $1.25M/year range. And although Stalberg  has yet to prove he’s as value a piece to the puzzle as Frolik or Campoli, his re-signing gives the Blackhawks flexibility in more ways than one.

Andrew BrunetteRusty OleszBrian Bickell, Dan Carcillo, Victor Stalberg, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach, and Rob Klinkhammer are all in the mix in what is looking more and more like a future dogfight at left wing  (although this summer’s signings have made it less likely that Klinkhammer will ever wear the Indian head). I’m leaving Patrick Sharp out of the conversation for now since the current lack of depth at center will force him into the 2nd line center role full-time, but he’s obviously another – and coincidentally, the best – option at LW.

Stalberg would be the most attractive trade bait of the players on the current roster. There will always be a demand for big, speedy left wingers and many view Stalberg as a work in progress. Stalberg and a prospect or two might be what is required for the Hawks to pick up a proven 2nd line LW or center.

If a trade is not in the near future, then Stalberg gives Stan some options with the current roster. The Hawks still might be able to buyout Olesz or choose to send him down to Rockford. It’s doubtful many, if any, teams would want him in a trade. If Olesz is not on the roster, than Stalberg will be given every opportunity to grab the LW spot on the 2nd line. Morin would then be in the mix too, since he is more NHL-ready than Beach. The Blackhawk have the bodies to rotate players in and out of that slot until a trade can be made, possibly near next season’s trade deadline. The Hawks will have the cap space to acquire even the largest of contracts at a prorated cap hit.

Conversely, if a trade isn’t made this summer and Olesz makes a full recovering from knee surgery, then it is much more likely Olesz will be on the open day roster. The Hawks should have in the ballpark of $2.75M in cap space if they are able to re-sign Campoli and Frolik. If they send Olesz down and bring up Morin, that’s an additional cap savings of $2.25M. There’s little reason the Hawks would need that $5M in cap space going into the season. It’s more likely they give Olesz a chance at 2LW before eating the cost of a $3.125M/year player. Remember, they still have one more year to pay on Cristobal Huet‘s $5.625M/year contract, and according to Rocky Wirtz, the team continues to operate in the red.

Morin also missed a large chunk of last season and is only 20 years old. He could use the extra time in Rockford (where his base AHL contract only costs the Hawks $67,500/year). Olesz has a history of injuries, so it is likely Morin will joining the big club by mid-season anyways.

With Morin and Beach projected as the Hawks’ future 1st and 2nd line LW’s, Stalberg serves as insurance in case either’s development falters. The $875k cap hit buys Stalberg some time to prove he can contribute on the top lines. I personally don’t see Stalberg as the answer now or in the future, but the price is right to find out for sure.

John Schultz, lead writer for BlackhawkUp. Please leave a comment and follow me on Twitter@ChiNativeSon.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Jeremy Morin Kyle Beach NHL Rocky Wirtz Stan Bowman Viktor Stalberg

  • cliffkoroll

    Nice signing. I thought Stals gained a little bit of sandpaper last season. With the Hawks being slower this year, his wheels will come in handy on the 4th or even competing for some top-6 minutes. Of course, he might be dealt. Stan gets good marks here.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @cliffkoroll Yeah, I probably should’ve mentioned that I see Stalberg spending a large chunk of time on the 4th line, and rotating in at 2LW. IMO very little chance he spends the 2 full years in Chicago though.

  • hawksfan23123

    @John Schultz @cliffkoroll I think he’ll stay in Chicago for the 2 years at least. He’ll develop into a good player by the end of his contract, so the Hawks will probably need him.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @hawksfan23123 @cliffkoroll My reasoning is based less on Stalberg’s development and more on who the Hawks have in the system (Morin and Beach), their expected development timetables, and the Hawks’ immediate need for an impact player.

    Even if Stalberg develops into a competent 1 or 2LW, it’s doubtful he’ll be a game changer. He’s 25 already and never had the numbers – even in college – that a player with his physical gifts should have put up.

    If the Hawks want to win another Cup next season, it won’t be with Stalberg at 2LW. They have the cap space to make a big splash at the trade deadline for a 2LW or 2C. If Stalberg is playing well, that might make him even more attractive as trade bait.

    And if they re-sign Sharp, and McNeil is ready next season, then the path is even more difficult since Sharp will go back to LW. So although I’m not a Stalberg hater, his days are likely numbered due to circumstances within the organization.

  • johnnymor68

    I agree John, I don’t know if Victor will be a great contributor either. I do think he’s more than serviceable on a 3rd or 4th line, because his speed keeps the other teams forechecking honest and he does skate well to the net. Maybe the captain could give him some tips on how to finish though!

  • hawksfan23123

    I don’t think stalberg will be gone until next season at the least. It isn’t good for a GM to sign and trade a guy that same season.

  • hawksfan23123

    Plus, Beach actually isn’t all that he was hyped up to be from what I heard. I hear he was mainly an enforcer, not a goal scorer.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    @hawksfan23123 GM’s sign and trade players all the time. It’s part of the business.

    Beach is not really an enforcer. He loses the majority of his fights and has problems against players his size or bigger. Beach is sandpaper and needs some discipline. He has talent. Whether he matures into a top line or bottom line player is yet to be seen though.

    Again, I do like Stalberg and hope he develops, but currently he is a placeholder until the prospects develop and/or a trade is made.

  • hawksfan23123

    I don’t think Beach is gonna get past the third line at best. That’s just my opinion though. Time will tell.