Viktor Stalberg said last week that he’s in the “driver’s seat” in terms of his hockey future. According to his agent, Stalberg will likely take a spin and see what he can get come July 5.
Stalberg’s agent Wade Arnott said, via email, that he’s had a talk with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman regarding his client; but Arnott added it’s “highly likely” the speedy forwardwill test the free-agent waters. With the lockout-shortened season and lengthy postseason, the free agency period opens on July5 this year.
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Other Blackhawks are facing more certainty with the team. Bowman said Sunday that “we’re certainly going to sign” defenseman Nick Leddy and forward Marcus Kruger, both restricted free agents. Leddy made just over $1.116 millionlast season; Kruger made $900,000. A report via The Fourth Period said that the Blackhawks were nearing an extension with goaltender Ray Emery. A message left with Emery’s representative, seeking confirmation, was not immediately returned.
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The 27-year-old Stalberg just wrapped up his two-year deal with the Blackhawks. While he was a regular-season staple for the Blackhawks – he was part of a successful third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell – Stalberg was benched twice in the postseason. The first benching came in the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the DetroitRed Wings, the second in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Boston Bruins.
Stalberg was frustrated by the turn of events.
“It’s tough. But at the end of the day we won (the Cup),” he said at the team’s final availability last week. “I had to fight through it for all the guys in the room It’s what you do with it.”
As far as his free-agent status, Stalberg is excited about the possibilities.
“It’s one of those things, I’m in the driver’s seat. I have options, can pick and choose where I want to go,” he said. “If (the Blackhawks) want to keep me, they want to keep me. I’m not saying I want to stay; I haven’t made that decision. We’ll figure out… what their plans are and what mine are and go from there.”