Viktor Stalberg admits he did not get as much time as he’d like to revel in the fact that he won a Stanley Cup last month as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 27-year-old left wing quickly realized, though, he can’t necessarily count on a second time. That became abundantly clear last week during a round of golf with Daniel Alfredsson, a fellow Swede who has been a full-time NHL player since 1995.
“He kind of just kept telling me how amazing it was, [to] just cherish the moment,” Stalberg said Monday. “He’s been in the league for 19 years and been one of the best players that whole time. He said he was in the Finals once but never really came close to winning it.
“Talking to him kind of gave me perspective on things.”
The Blackhawks won their second title in four years when they defeated Boston 3-2 in Game 6 on June 24.
Last Friday, fewer than two weeks later, he signed a four-year, $12 million free agent deal with the Nashville Predators. In so doing, he became the first player since tough guy Jim McKenzie in 2003 to sign with Nashville after having played for the Stanley Cup champion the previous season.
“It’s been two pretty busy weeks, that’s for sure,” Stalberg said. “You try to not think about it too much because you want to enjoy the Cup parties and all that kind of fun you had with that for a week in Chicago.
“I came home, sat down and talked with my agent and stuff. It became pretty clear to me early on in the process that Nashville was one of the teams that I really thought was a fit for me. Obviously, I’m excited I was able to work out a deal with them.”
The last time the Predators added a player fresh off a Stanley Cup triumph was July 18, 2006. Then they traded with Carolina for forward Josef Vasicek. That move did not pay significant dividends. Vasicek appeared in just 38 games before he was dealt back to the Hurricanes that season.
The last time they added a player who had been a part of any Cup champion was 2007, when they signed free agent defenseman Greg de Vries seven years after he won with the Colorado Avalanche. de Vries spent the next two seasons – the last two of his career – with Nashville. The last of those, 2008-09, was the last time before this season the Predators failed to reach the postseason.
McKenzie, on the other hand, played 61 games for Nashville in 2003-04, the first season the franchise made the playoffs.
“Being on a winning team, I think you set the standard for certain things,” Stalberg said. “At the same time you want to be on a good team and winning and all that, it might not be the opportunity for me to reach my potential.”
Which has to do with why he signed with the Predators, who never have reached the conference finals and finished 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference last season.
Nashville pursued him with the idea that he could inject some offense into the top half of the lineup. His best offensive season was 2011-12, when he had 22 goals and 21 assists in 79 games.
He played all but nine regular season contests over the last three primarily as a third-line forward on a Blackhawks’ team that featured some of the NHL’s top players at that position. He was scratched for the first two of the games in the Finals and five of his team’s 24 postseason contests this year, but Chicago won three of the four games he played in the championship series, including the clincher.
“It’s so hard to grasp that you won it,” Stalberg said. “Guys work so long in their careers to reach that goal and some guys never get the opportunity. I feel very fortunate to be part of a good team at the right time when we won it.
“… Those guys they never doubted themselves. They were really expecting to win every game. I think that’s something I can bring to Nashville. … Being around it and seeing that the Cup does to people — how exciting it is — I’m hopeful I can get a chance to experience that in Nashville as well.”
And maybe even have the opportunity to enjoy it a little bit.