Stalberg aims for bigger role in Nashville

Stalberg aims for bigger role in Nashville
July 8, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Viktor Stalberg recognized his role with the Chicago Blackhawks; he just wanted more of one. Now he’s ready to make a fresh start and hopes he gets that bigger role with the Nashville Predators.

Stalberg, who signed a four-year deal worth $12 million with Nashville on Friday, talked about moving forward with Nashville and the bigger role he would like to play there.

“I was looking for a different opportunity,” Stalberg said via conference call. “It’s a great team in Nashville. I know they’re well built and coached and hopefully I can add some offense to that team.”

Nashville, a defensive-minded team, could use the boost on offense. The Predators scored just 111 goals in 48 regular-season games, the lowest tally of all the NHL squads. So they’re hoping they addressed that during free agency with a few signings, including Stalberg’s. As for Stalberg, he wants to play in a top-six role. He wants more minutes and he wants a chance to bring that offense.

“I wanted to come to a team where I could have a bigger opportunity and play more,” he said. “In Chicago, we have superstars and it’s tough to get the opportunity in front of those guys. They’re going to get the big minutes. I don’t think I’ve reached my potential (yet), and that’s why I chose Nashville.”

[MORE: Stalberg signs with division-rival Predators]

Stalberg’s best season here was 2011-12, when he recorded 22 goals and 21 assists. Eight of those goals came against the Columbus Blue Jackets. But he never really could break into and stay in the Blackhawks’ top six. Stalberg got little to no power play time his first two seasons here. But when he got that chance on the man advantage last season, not much came out of it. By the postseason, Stalberg was completely off the power play.

Now Stalberg looks to play that and more minutes in Nashville. He’s likely to be a top-six player for them, given how much they struggle on offense. But they’re also a grind-it-out squad -– basically, a team full of two-way players -- and Stalberg will have to adjust to that style of play.

[RELATED: Blackhawks re-sign Handzus, Rozsival]

It was time for a change for Stalberg. He wanted more of an opportunity. He should get it in Nashville.

“I think they had a plan in place on what they wanted to do,” he said. “They’re a team built from the back end, and Pekka Rinne is one of the absolute top goaltenders in the league. I think looking at that, what they were missing were offensive players and that’s what they certainly went out and got (in free agency). That’s why I decided to go there. They’ve got a good thing going.”