BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT
In addition to the new faces on hand at the Blackhawks Convention was a player Hawks fans became familiar with last season, but with a big smile fresh off the signing of his new contract to remain with the team.
Viktor Stalberg and the Hawks came to terms Sunday on a two-year deal worth a total of $1.75 million to avoid an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 20.
The 25-year-old winger said the plan was always to stay with the Hawks and that he was happy the two sides were able to get the deal done before arbitration.
"I don't think anyone of us wanted to do that [arbitration] and I certainly didn't," Stalberg said. "It was just a matter of they were dealing with other free agents for a couple days and we didn't have time to finalize the deal before I needed to file for arbitration. It was my right to file for arbitration and I wanted to protect myself."
Stalberg had 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 77 games during his first season with the Hawks and first full season in the NHL while bouncing between all four lines and averaging less time on the ice than any other regular forward other than Ryan Johnson.
Stalberg struggled at times, most notably scoring only two goals during a 36-game stretch. But he ranked fourth on the team with 102 hits and did show flashes of the potential his speed and size suggest, including a playoff goal in Game 2 of the Hawks first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks.
"Me and [general manager] Stan [Bowman] had a good talk after the season ended and it seemed like I can help this team out," Stalberg said. "I certainly feel like I have a lot more to prove and to help out with this year and I'm excited for the new season."