Agent: Stalberg expected to test market

Viktor Stalberg was frustrated at times durnig the playoffs with reduced playing time. Dave Sandford/NHLI/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg will likely explore his options around the NHL when he officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on Friday, according to his agent.

"I have had some discussion with [Blackhawks general manager] Stan [Bowman] regarding Vik's status with the Blackhawks," Stalberg's agent Wade Arnott wrote in an email on Monday night. "While I would not rule out having further discussion with the Blackhawks this week, it is highly likely Vik will be exploring the free agent marketplace when his contract expires. I would think the market would be vibrant for a player of Vik's stature and ability, never mind his upside."

Stalberg's role during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run varied throughout the regular season and playoffs. He had nine goals and 14 assists, averaged 14:07 of ice time and often played a key role on the third line in 47 regular-season games. His role was diminished in the playoffs; he was a healthy scratch for four games, had three assists and averaged 10:35 of ice time in 19 playoff games. He played fewer than 10 minutes in nine of those games.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville often cited matchups for why Stalberg was benched during the playoffs. Stalberg expressed frustration over his playing time throughout the playoffs, but he said his main goal was winning the Stanley Cup.

Stalberg said last week he may have to consider signing elsewhere to give himself a better opportunity to play more.

"I think over the last three years I've showed I deserve to play maybe more times than I got an opportunity to do here," Stalberg said on June 27. "I think that's just how it is. You're on one of the best teams, and you have some of the best players in the world in front of you. That's what it is.

"That's great, but maybe at some point in your career you want to see what else is out there and what other role you can get and see for yourself how good you can allow yourself to be. I think that's a thing we're going to see if that's the fit here. If it's not, it might be somewhere else."

Stalberg was acquired by the Blackhawks in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010. He has 43 goals and 47 assists in 203 regular-season games with the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks already have dealt two players since winning the Stanley Cup. They traded forward Dave Bolland to the Maple Leafs and forward Michael Frolik to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. They also re-signed Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract. Bowman said Sunday he also plans to re-sign defenseman Nick Leddy and forward Marcus Kruger (both are restricted free agents).