Chicago Blackhawks Season Countdown: Viktor Stalberg
By Samuel Boland
As the countdown to the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season continues, we’ll take a look at one player who best wore the same number as there are days left until October 4 when the season kicks off against the Ottawa Senators.
With the Chicago Blackhawks season 26 days away yesterday we looked at Michal Handzus; a player with a huge impact during the 2013 Stanley Cup run.
Now, with every day the regular season moves closer, time seems to pass a bit slower. Today, we’ll remember Viktor Stalberg who just might have enough speed to make this countdown go by a little bit faster.
Terrible jokes aside, Stalberg was well known as the fastest Chicago Blackhawk on the ice, and perhaps the fastest player in the league. For one such example, watch how he turns on the jets and blows by the Washington Capitals defense for a breakaway.
Spoiler: He doesn’t miss.
Stalberg was drafted in the sixth round (161st overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006 NHL Entry draft. As the late pick that he was, expectations weren’t incredibly high for Viktor and his potential impact in the league.
That said, his rookie season (2009-10) with the Leafs wasn’t bad, excluding his plus- of -13. He spent nearly 15 minutes a night on the ice and would score 9 goals and add 5 assists in 40 games.
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Meanwhile, after winning the Cup in 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to blow up their roster because of impending cap issues.
Stalberg With The Chicago Blackhawks
To help make up for that, they brought Stalberg in. Viktor was fresh off his first season with Toronto.
In 2010-11 Stalberg began his first year with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he played in 77 games. Though he only averaged 10:42 TOI (time on ice), he did put up 24 points (12 G, 12 A) in his first full NHL season.
His second year with Chicago was the most productive Viktor had been yet, however it unfortunately remains the best season he’s had to date.
It was his only 20-goal scoring season and in addition he put up 43 points (22 G, 21 A). Coming off that year, Viktor looked as if he could be demanding a serious contract extension when he became a free agent down the road.
That’s especially true considering his electrifying speed, demonstrated in plays like this. “No defenseman that can stop this type of speed straight ahead,” said Eddie Olczyk. Judging off of that video, it’s clear that Stalberg can really fly.
That said, you need a little bit more than that to truly be successful. He wasn’t reliable during the playoffs and never fared especially well defensively. Ultimately, he would have two consecutive down seasons with the team and the Chicago Blackhawks would decide not to give him a raise.
His lack of aggression, in tandem with the other qualities mentioned would help him to see a fair amount of healthy scratches and eventually find his way out of Chicago.
He’d go on to spend the next two seasons with the Nashville Predators playing relatively subpar the whole time. Though he’d have flashes of greatness like we saw while he wore the Blackhawks sweater, he’d never truly regain that 20-goal scoring season.
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Throughout the remainder of his career he’d go on to spend time between the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and most recently the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I’ll always remember Stalberg for his insane speed and the excitement the stadium felt every time he took off after a puck. That, and for his name on the back of one of many Blackhawks t-shirts I owned of players who’ve come and gone over the years.
Check back in tomorrow for who will be remembered at no. 24!