Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 7/5/13
Seeking to get bigger and add some scoring punch at the same time, the Nashville Predators signed right wing Viktor Stalberg, formerly with Stanley Cup champion Chicago, to a four-year, 12-million contract on Friday, the start of NHL free agency. They also added center Matt Cullen, 36, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006, when he posted a career-high 25 goals. Cullen, most recently with Minnesota, signed a two-year, 7-million deal, TSN reported. A third signing was gritty bottom-six forward Matt Hendricks (four years, 7.4 million), who played the last three seasons in Washington, stands 6-foot, 211 pounds and brings a rugged style and personality that teammates love and opponents hate. In 263 career games, Hendricks has 365 penalty minutes, but also brings a measure of skill. He has 27 goals and 31 assists (.22 points per game) and, surprisingly, is a good shootout player. A Predators team official tweeted a photo of Hendricks signing his contract with the team. Stalberg, a right wing, is both young at 27 and stands 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, bringing some skill and game-changing speed. Stalberg scored 22 goals in 2011-12, his third in the NHL, and has 52 career goals in 243 games, a pace of .21 goals per game an average of 17.5 over 82 games. Stalberg accomplished that in relatively limited opportunity in Chicago, playing behind two of the league's top right wings (tge Blackhawks Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane). He averaged 14:07 per game, 20th on the team. In some ways, he replaces the traded Martin Erat, who averaged 18:55 per game last season for Nashville. If Stalberg comes with a red flag, he and coach Joel Quenneville did not always see eye to eye and Quenneville scratched Stalberg during the playoffs. Also, Stalberg has one goal in 32 career playoff games. Regardless, he ought to be able to grow into his role in Nashville, which increasingly is becoming friendly to Swedish players. Stalberg will join countrymen Patric Hornqvist, who has led the Predators in goals in two of the last four seasons, and potential newcomer Filip Forsberg, who could make the team out of camp as a rookie. Nashville received Forsberg, a high first-round pick in 2012, from Washington in the Erat trade. In Cullen, the Predators acquired a well traveled journeyman. Nashville will be his seventh team and the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has spent two stints in Carolina. In a career of 1,073 games, Cullen has averaged better than a half-point per game with 202 goals and 360 assists. Impressively, he has 39 points in 68 playoff games. He also can kill penalties. With other centers such as Mike Fisher, Paul Gaustad and Nick Spaling set to return, the move could create a crunch on the depth chart for David Legwand, the longest-tenured Predator and career leader in games played. The move almost puts into question whether the Predators might look to move Legwand. Craig Smith and Colin Wilson also are natural centers but have mostly played wing for Nashville.
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