Wow, feels like I haven't posted in years. Sorry everyone, things have been busy, but now onto aplayer evaluation followed by some trade talk compliments of Kaner.
Hopefully the video of Stalberg works (I haven't posted any videos yet at this new platform). It illustrates just what can come out of his skills and talents. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, with blazing speed, he is quite the catch and a possible star in the future. However, he is also 25 years old and had an iffy season at best.
It is not everyday a guy like Stalberg comes around and I have to say that he is worth the gamble from what I have seen so far. His recent signing with the Hawks gives us 2 more years of either watching him shine or continue to wade in the stagnant waters of the 4th line. I was all for his signing and I think the Hawks scored pretty well on his recent deal. Apparently not wanting to wait for arbitration, Viktor decided to sign for a fair amount at just over $850,000. I'll take it, because I expect a bit of fireworks from the guy this coming year. I can only think that this was a rough year for the guy, as it was for many in a Hawk's uniform and that the future holds great rewards.
Stalberg was Q's new Versteeg in more ways than one. He started on the 4th line with Skille who also showed explosive speed and had size, and for a time they looked like a winning combination. It would seem that speed without a destination is worthless. So, while the two seemed to dazzle their opponents, it rarely led to any point production. Eventually, though maybe a bit too quickly, Q gave up on this duo and started the juggling we all know him for. After time, Skille was traded and Stalberg saw time on the top line along side of Toews. A place one would expect to find some points, but Stalberg was quickly moved off that line and began what looked like an attempt to stay afloat in mirky waters. His minutes on the ice also had a wave-like affect which saw him as high as 16 minutes to as low as 4. As with Versteeg, Stalberg seemed to be the guy that Q was not afraid of sitting for a poor performance.
And still, I believe in this guy. He has the talent and now he needs to figure it out. I suggest a few lessons from the great Pavel Bure who learned how to control and use his speed to do great things, but even his speed eventually spelled disaster. This is what I saw in Stalberg: A good start with a rough 50 or so games in the middle and then improvement late in the season. I think he was finally starting to get it, and if the Hawks are developing a more rounded team with a desired system in place, Stalberg might be one of the many who stand to gain from such a thing. He has top 6 talent and that is for sure. I say give this guy another year and it seems SB agrees. With the added size and grit the Hawks have now, Viktor might feel less pressure to play to his size. I was definitely not impressed with his physical addition to the Hawks game this past year.
Final Grade: C+. 12 goals isn't the worst thing in the world, and again, he seemed to start sparking at the end there, but in a year when guys like Bickell, Kopecky, and Brouwer outscored and outhit him, a C+ isn't too shabby. He has greatness in his speed, but he needs to tame it and play more defensively too.
And now for a change in subject.
Kaner recently told TSN that he applauded the recent trades made by SB. This sheds a different light on the team moral that Brouwer's words might have set. Kaner said, "We are here to win hockey games, we've added some things that will help us win again." I agree with Kane. The Hawks have added some winning elements and those elements happened to make TSN's top list of fighters who are the most productive players.
Even Hjalmer got in on the discussion, adding, "It's sad to see a guy like Brian go, especially for me. Thats a guy that helped me a lot when I came up from the minors, but every good thing has an end." Kane added, "I don't think you can ever have more than enough toughness. I think last year --I don't want to say we got exposed, but we weren't like as protected enough as years before." I am not surprised to hear this coming from Kaner in the least bit. It does however send a message that he might not have felt too safe on the ice and that might have had implications on his overall play. "You need certain players for certain roles." I could not have said it better myself Kane, and this is something we have been moaning about on this blog for some time now.
Lastly, Kaner said this, "I think the thing with Brouwer, he never really felt like he got a fair share." The problem was that he was being used in a role he never felt comfortable in. Now in the season following a Stanley Cup champion that was second in fights, the Hawks picked up guys like Carcillo, Mayers, and O'Donnell (even Montador) who play the instigator and protector roles really well, but can also skate and add offense when needed. They know their roles and are confident in those roles. I might add that Eager also made the list of Fighters who are productive and his trade was one I always scratched my head on.