Viktor Stalberg

Viktor Stalberg looks to become Chicago’s next big goal scorer

When Viktor Stalberg arrived on the scene in Chicago after being traded from Toronto in the Kris Versteeg deal, he showed up as a guy with high speed and high potential. The former University of Vermont forward and Hobey Baker Award finalist came out of college as a big time goal scorer with the Catamounts and showed glimpses of that in his short time with the Maple Leafs.

After a full season in Chicago that saw Stalberg score 12 goals and 12 assists in 77 games, he’s hoping that after two NHL seasons that he’s on the road to becoming a bigger threat on the ice. For the Blackhawks’ sake, they wouldn’t mind having yet another weapon to trot out on the ice.

Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune spoke with Stalberg to gauge his thoughts on the upcoming season and what he would like to accomplish.

“There are some spots in the top six and there are some spots in the bottom six,” said Stalberg, who along with teammates Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson helped paint the Indian head logo on the United Center ice Wednesday. “I’m going to do everything I can to take one of those (top spots). If I don’t, I know I can go back and play that more physical game too. It’s good for our team and good for my career that I can play a couple of different roles.”

Stalberg’s blistering speed and offensive skills are the types of things meant to be on a top-six line, but his ability to finish is what holds him back. Stalberg admits that a lot of his shots just didn’t find their way in last season. CSNChicago’s Tracey Myers finds out from Stalberg that when the shots don’t go in, frustrations pick up.

“Anyone who says (the tough times) don’t affect them is lying. Some part of that stretch I was on the top line and it was frustrating because you want to score when you’re there. It was tough,” he said. “But I had a pretty good finish and that gives me confidence going into this year.”

Stalberg finished last season with a 8.9% shooting percentage and getting an uptick in that percentage this season could put Stalberg in as a 20-25 goal guy. Earning the minutes to make that happen will be his challenge.

Taking time to blossom is a lesson he can talk to a teammate about and learning what it takes as Patrick Sharp was slow to bloom into becoming a big time scorer in the NHL. Sharp’s first three seasons were relatively quiet ones with the Philadelphia Flyers and his first in Chicago as well.

Once he found his way, however, he became the key running mate for the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa that we see today. Once Sharp had his first 20-goal season during his first full year in Chicago, he learned to not just pot goals but help others score as well turning him into one of Chicago’s most valuable scorers piling up 60+ points in three of the last four seasons including a career-high 71 last year.

If Stalberg can follow along that sort of path, the wealth of riches the Blackhawks will have going ahead into the future will be disturbing. One thing’s for sure, the fans in Chicago would love to see things play out that way. For Stalberg, he’ll have to keep working hard to make it happen.

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

Connor McDavid
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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”