June 16 2014 11:03PM
Anton Stralman turns 28 on August 1st. He's already played 394 regular season games and 55 playoff games. He is pending UFA, and there has been some great debate over how good he is.
Let's start with what most of us agree on, he is a solid second pairing D-man. However, the debate heats up when you discuss how good is he, how good can he be in the future and how much should a team spend on him in free agency?
I'm not sure there is a right answer to the latter, because every team will value him differently and one man's trash is another man's treasure, but after receiving many emails, texts and tweets about the topic, I thought I'd look at it a bit closer.
I think Stralman is a very solid 2nd pairing defender. I'm not sure you can accurately say if he is a #3 or a #4, because often the gap is very slim, so I'll stick with 2nd pairing.
He is listed as 5' 11", 195 pounds and he shoots right. He split his first two NHL seasons between the Maple Leafs and their AHL affiliate Marlies. On July 27th, 2009 he was traded to Calgary along with Colin Stuart and a 7th round pick in 2012 for Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in 2011.
He never played for the Flames, as he was traded on September 28th to the Blue Jackets for a 3rd round pick.
He spent two seasons with the Blue Jackets, and he went to free agency in the summer of 2011. No team signed him, so he went to New Jersey Devil's camp with a PTO (professional tryout). He didn't make the Devils, but the Rangers signed him to a one-year deal on November 3rd. He filed for arbitration in the summer of 2012, but on July 26th, he signed a two-year deal worth $3.4 million.
Stralman's journey to the Stanley Cup finals and now into free agency as one of the most-talked about defenders was anything but glamorous. He's been traded twice, went unsigned by all 30 teams in free agency before finding a home with the Rangers.
He is another example of how a player's developmental curve rarely trends consistently upwards.
HOW GOOD IS HE?
It is hard to say. He was used completely different in Columbus than he was with the Rangers.
|Team||GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||PPP||S||TOI/G||PP TOI/G||SH TOI/G|
With the Blue Jackets he averaged about 16 minutes ES, three minutes on the PP and :20 on the PK, but with the Rangers he has morphed into mainly an ES player and a 2nd pairing PK guy. His last two seasons in New York he's become almost a shut down defender.
Here is a quick look at some of his advanced stats at 5x5 over the past five seasons courtesy of behindthenet.ca.
|TEAM||TOI/60||Corsi Rel QoC||Corsi QoC||Corsi Rel||Corsi On||On-Ice Sh%||On-Ice Sv%||PDO||OZ Start %|
Again, we see a vastly different player from Columbus to New York. It is interesting to note that this past season, amongst Rangers defenders only, John Moore had a higher OZ start% than Stralman, but Stralman didn't start nearly as many shifts as Moore in the O zone.That leads you to believe that when Stralman is on the ice he helps ensure the Rangers have the puck in the offensive zone more often.
In Edmonton Jeff Petry was 43%, Ference was 45.6%, Marincin was 45.3 % and Schultz was 46%. It will be hard for Stralman to have above 50% OZ start time in Edmonton I would think, at least right away, because the entire team struggles to maintain possession in the offensive zone.
Blueblooded (Rangers blogger) took a look at how Stralman plays with Mark Staal and without him. The numbers look good for Stralman, but I did have some advanced stats guys suggest that study relies to heavily on Corsi. So it depends what you value.
WOULD HE HELP THE OILERS?
Of course. But how much do you pay him?
I'm still not a huge believer that Corsi tells us everything, but you can't overlook the numbers that Tyler Dellow compiled on Stralman.
My main question is how can a guy be on the ice for that many goals and never get any points? Is it just an anomaly, or is he simply a case of being on the ice at the right time? I don't know the answers, but if I'm Craig MacTavish I'd be getting my video guy to break down every goal the Rangers scored when Stralman was on the ice and find out what exactly happened.
Stralman was 119th amongst D-men in ES scoring last season with 13 points, but he is on the ice for a fair amount of goals. I'd want to know why his point totals are so low considering how many opportunities he has to get an assist, even the odd gimme 2nd assist.
I don't have the time or video equipment to go through every Rangers goal, but the Oilers do and they should.
If you are going to make smart signings in free agency you should cover all bases, especially if you are going to offer a long-term deal.
I'd look at giving Stralman $4.25 million for five years.
I'm still skeptical that a small, non physical D-man who isn't great offensively can be a top-pairing defender. Stralman played 19:24/game last year, 110th most amongst NHL D-men. If the Oilers expect him to a be a top-pairing D-man, I'd expect his numbers to drop.
He'd have to play more minutes, and if he plays more minutes he could wear down. I know every player wants to play more, but playing more minutes doesn't guarantee you will have the same or more success. Many players struggle when they play more minutes, mainly because in Stralman's case he'd be playing tougher competition.
Currently there are 30 defencemen making $5 million or more.
Boston: Zdeno Chara Buffalo: Tyler Myers
Calgary: Dennis Wideman Chicago: Duncan Keith & Brent Seabrook
Columbus: James Wisniewski Dallas: Sergei Gonchar
Florida: Brian Campbell Los Angeles: Drew Doughty
Minnesota: Ryan Suter Montreal: P.K Subban* (not signed yet)
Nashville: Shea Weber New York Rangers: Dan Girardi
Ottawa: Erik Karlsson Philly: Mark Streit & Andrew MacDonald
Phoenix: Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Keith Yandle
Pittsburgh: Kris Letang & Paul Martin
San Jose: Brent Burns St.Louis: Alex Pietrangelo & Jay Bouwmeester
Tampa Bay: Matt Carle Toronto: Dion Phaneuf
Vancouver: Alex Edler Washington: Mike Green
Winnipeg: Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian & Dustin Byfuglien
Byfuglien wants to play defence, but the Jets played him as a forward last year. I see him as a D-man next year.
Does Stralman fit in on that list in your eyes?
I'd love to know if anyone has crunched the numbers on players who changed teams, especially going from good to bad teams, and how different there numbers looked on their new team.
I like Stralman, and I think he'd help the Oilers, but I'm leery of giving him $5 million/year. I believe if you make that much money you need to be a consistent top-pairing defender, and while Stralman has showed he can do it in short stints, he hasn't had to be the main guy every night.
That is a big jump for any player, so I'd hope the Oilers do extensive video review to see what he is doing on the ice that allows his team to be in the offensive zone so often when he is on.
Is he leading the charge out of his zone and into the offensive zone or is he an excellent complementary player?
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