Viktor Stalberg was pretty happy with the way 2011-12 went for him. Not surprising, as he set career-high numbers in goals (22), assists (21) and points (43).
But when the Blackhawks conducted exit interviews last week, his focus was about what he could add to his game next season.
Or, more specifically, what parts of the game he could be added to next season.
When Stalberg scored his 22 goals this season, they were all in even-strength situations. The forward, in his third NHL season, saw little to no time on the Blackhawks power play. And thats where hed like to get more of a chance next season.
Im always looking to get a bigger role on the team, Stalberg said. Im working on little things to get on special teams and things like that. I didnt play much this year, but I want to get more into my game and hopefully I can help out there in the future.
Considering his even-strength work this season, why not give Stalberg more power-play opportunities next season? The Blackhawks power play struggled mightily in 2011-12, usually doing more to stifle momentum than build it. There were plenty of tweaks, too, as basically everyone played some on that power play. But the results were never very consistent.
Stalberg did play there. Sort of. He logged a little more than 35 minutes of total power-play time this season; that worked out to about 27 secondsgame.
I definitely want to get a chance at it, Stalberg said. I didnt get much of a chance this year, no extended time. I think its something Ill look to get better and keep working at.
Stalberg could be used in a few ways on that power play, although one role may be perfect for him in the current situation: net-front presence. Several Blackhawks talked last week about that element being MIA this season, mentioning former Hawks Tomas Kopecky and Troy Brouwer by name. Stalberg brings a big body (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) that could screen a few goaltenders and deflect a few goals.
And as far as the hits, slashes, pushes and shoves that net presence gets from the opposition on the power play, Stalbergs ready to take the abuse.
Yeah, for sure. I think you want to get all the ice time you can get, Stalberg said. Thats the role you have to take, and Id like to get that into my game. Get grittier and score more goals in traffic like that. A lot of guys made great careers standing in front of the net.
Stalberg hopes to add power play to his repertoire next season. Will he get the chance? Who knows. But considering the anemia the Blackhawks had on it this season, its certainly worth consideration.
Well see what happens, he said. Im definitely looking to get better, and hopefully Ill get a chance to be on there.