Trotz defends decision to scratch Stalberg

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The Nashville Predators were among the worst teams offensively last season, which encouraged them to sign Viktor Stalberg to a four-year, $12 million deal over the summer. Stalberg had 23 points in 47 games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he might have done better if he wasn’t limited to an average of 14:07 minutes per game.

The thought was that his playing time would increase when he moved from one of the deepest teams in the NHL to a Predators squad with an anemic offense. Instead, Stalberg’s ice time has actually gone down significantly this season — and that was before he was made a healthy scratch on Thursday. Consequently, he has no points in six games.

To be clear, it’s not because the Predators’ offense has been any better in 2013-14 — so far they’re actually averaging fewer goals per game — although their defense and the now injured goaltender Pekka Rinne have guided them to a 6-4-1 start.

Still, Predators coach Barry Trotz feels that limiting Stalberg’s playing time right now will help him in the long run, according to the Tennessean. Especially after Stalberg started the season on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, Trotz is taking it slow as the 27-year-old forward gets used to his new team and system.

“It is never fun watching,” Stalberg said. “It is embarrassing, too; I have to be better. It is up to me to make a difference out there, so I will do everything I can once I get back in and try to get it going.”

The Nashville Predators will face the St. Louis Blues tonight.