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Stalberg trying not to think about contract

Feb 25, 2013, 3:09 PM EDT

Viktor Stalberg AP

Viktor Stalberg is trying to enjoy his time with the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. As a pending unrestricted free agent, he knows there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next season.

“It’s hard not to think about sometimes, but you just have to play hard and show them your best side and see what happens,” Stalberg told the Chicago Tribune recently. “You can’t think about it too much. What matters is this year and what we’re doing with these guys. If this is my last year here, we want to go as far as possible and try to win it this year. That’s the focus.”

Stalberg, who happens to be one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, would draw considerable interest on the open market. The 27-year-old forward had 22 goals in 2011-12, his second season in Chicago, and has four goals in his first 18 games in 2013.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman admits that Stalberg “has played really well”; however, with the salary cap coming down to $64.3 million for 2013-14, the club will have limitations.

Suffice to say, Stalberg is in a position to demand more than the $875,000 he’s currently being paid, and he could also be offered a more prominent role on a team that isn’t quite so stacked with forward talent.

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