According to TSN, the Maple Leafs continued their signing spree on Tuesday morning, inking University of Vermont foward Viktor Stalberg to a two-year entry level contract. The 23-year old powerforward could potentially join the Toronto Marlies as early as tomorrow night as they embark on their playoff quest.
“Viktor was one of the best players in the NCAA this season,” said Burke. “He’s been able to perform in pressure situations and has been very consistent at both ends of the ice. We look forward to adding his size and speed to our organization.” Stalberg was selected in the 6th round, 161st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006 draft. It was anticipated that he might’ve been a bit of a tough sign as he would’ve been able to head back to Vermont to play alongside his younger brother, but he’s decided to make the jump to the next level.
Standing at 6’3 210 lbs, Viktor’s game offers an intriguing blend of size and skill. But the quality that makes him stand out the most is his quick stride and fluid skating ability, thus earning him the nickname “Swedish Rocket”. He has shown steady improvement throughout his 3 year NCAA career before finally breaking out in a big way this season. He recorded 24 goals and 22 assists fro 46 points in 39 games, finishing 5th overall in scoring in the nation and shattering his previous bests of 10 goals and 23 points. His impressive campaign, leadership ability and high academic scores helped him finish among the finalists for the Hobey Baker Trophy awarded to the top college player in the NCAA.
He possesses NHL-ready size, speed and a great wristshot. Although he possesses an impressive frame and doesn’t back down from physical play along the boards and in front of the net,Viktor plays more of a skill game than an in-your-face style typically seen from players his size. He should step right in and earn top minutes with the Marlies during their playoff as an early audition for next fall. There’s a very good chance he cracks the Maple Leaf lineup out of training camp next season, and is expected to become a solid 2nd liner further down the road.
Don’t forget to tune in to TSN tonight at 8pm EST for the NHL draft lottery. The Maple Leafs currently hold the 7th overall pick, and possess a 4.7% chance of winning the lottery to move up to 3rd overall. The New York Islanders currently have the best odds, holding a 25% chance to win the lottery outright, and a 48.1% chance of selecting 1st overall.
Burke sent the local media into a frenzy today by dropping the “bomb” that he would love to make a pitch for the consensus #1 overall pick, John Tavares. So seeing who grabs the top pick tonight should add some intrigue into that story. If you’re a believer of the “Bettman wants to save the struggling U.S. teams” conspiracy, look for the Atlanta Thrashers to capitalize on their 10.7% chance and snag the young phenom.
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