Somewhere in the back of Viktor Stalberg's mind resides the realization he could be down to his last 30 regular-season games in a Blackhawks sweater.
The winger will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and while there is some uncertainty about his future, Stalberg is determined not to let it dominate his thoughts.
"It's hard not to think about sometimes, but you just have to play hard and show them your best side and see what happens," Stalberg said. "You can't think about it too much. What matters is this year and what we're doing with these guys. If this is my last year here, we want to go as far as possible and try to win it this year. That's the focus."
Stalberg is in the second season of a two-year, $1.75 million deal and at 27 years old has shown steady improvement since being acquired from the Maple Leafs on June 30, 2010. Stalberg has four goals and three assists while skating on the third line and seeing time on the power play. He had one shot in 10:31 of ice time Sunday night.
General manager Stan Bowman said he is not currently negotiating with Stalberg's agent, Wade Arnott — or the agents for any of the Hawks' other pending free agents — but indicated he's pleased with Stalberg's progression.
"Viktor has played really well," Bowman said. "His role has grown since we acquired him. Now we're seeing he can add some more things to his game. Last year, he was a five-on-five player exclusively and this season he's kind of embraced his role."
Free agent-to-be Stalberg focused on here, now
Chicago Tribune | Feb 25