Viktor Stalberg went out to dinner at a restaurant earlier this week in his hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and lo and behold who was that (un) masked man sitting at the table next to him? None other than his new Rangers teammate, Henrik Lundqvist.
"I don't know Hank really well, we work out and skate together during the summer, but that's about it," Stalberg told BlueshirtsUnited.com on Thursday, before adding, "I'm sure I'll get to know him much better real soon, though."
The 29 year-old Stalberg was signed by the Rangers as a free agent last week on July 1, and he'll sure to be picking Lundqvist's brain about his new team and city in the coming weeks and months.
However Stalberg has already done his homework on the Rangers, and he likes what he knows about the organization.
"Playing against the Rangers the past few years you could see that they were one of the best teams in the league," explained Stalberg, who has played with the Maple Leafs, Blackhawks and Predators in his six-year NHL career. "I think it's a great fit for me. Their type of hockey fits my style, plus they have a chance to win it all. That makes for a perfect fit for me."
Stalberg, of course, knows about wining it all, having helped Chicago to the 2013 Stanley Cup championship, a feat that the 6-foot-3 Swede is hoping to replicate in New York this season.
"Winning the Stanley Cup is surreal," offered Stalberg, who scored a career-high 22 goals with Chicago in 2011-12, the year before he helped the 'Hawks win the Cup. "It's a great moment in your life, and you want to get back there because it was so amazing. I want to do it again. That's why I'm here (with the Rangers)."
Stalberg emphasized in his conversation with BlueshirtsUnited.com that the experience the Rangers core players have gained in reaching three Eastern Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Final over the past four years is invaluable as the team takes another crack at winning the Stanley Cup in 2015-16. It is a major reason why he chose to sign with New York after a pair of unfulfilling seasons with Nashville.
"Things didn't work out the way I wanted to, or the way the (Predators) wanted it to, but now I have a great opportunity to play with some great players in New York," stated Stalberg, who was 2-8-10 in only 25 games with the Predators a year ago. "I felt right away that the New York Rangers wanted me, and it helped make my decision (to sign) easier. I have the chance to play in a great market and a great city. This is a tremendous opportunity for me, and it's up to me to make the most of it."
As for what his role will be or what line he may fit best with, Stalberg believes that will be determined once training camp gets underway. For now he is just looking to prepare himself properly for the challenge which lies ahead in what he is hoping is a bounce-back season.
"We talked a little bit about what role I may play before I signed," explained Stalberg. "But right now i must compete and earn my spot once camp starts. From there, the rest will take care of itself."
Stalberg plans on working out in Sweden the rest of the summer, likely coming to New York in mid to late August, several weeks before training camp opens.
"I couldn't be any more excited."