What is Stralman worth?

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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 
2010 CBJ 73 6 28 34 -17 37 4 22 121 20:29 3:35 :40
2011 CBJ 51 1 17 18 -11 22 1 10 80 19:44 2:57 :19
2012 NYR 53 2 16 18 9 20 0 4 55 17:05 1:12 :36
2013 NYR 48 4 3 7 14 16 0 0 66 18:02 1:04 :57
2014 NYR 81 1 12 13 9 26 0 0 104 19:24 :16 1:37

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 5×5 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 %
2010 CBJ 15.5 0.253 1.287 9.8 2.17 6.55 903 968 50.9
2011 CBJ 15.67 -0.222 0.137 4.7 5.41 6.04 907 967 52.8
2012 NYR 14.79 -0.054 -0.02 0.4 -3.29 9.04 934 1024 51.6
2013 NYR 15.56 -0.387 -0.76 15.8 14.62 9.76 911 1009 57.5
2014 NYR 16.88 0.299 -0.14 11.2 13.12 6.76 924 991 50.9

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?

duck

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?

WRAP UP

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? 

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Would he help the worst defense corps in the league?

    Of course.

    Is he the answer?

    Nope.

    As others have pointed out, consensus is that he’s a good 2nd pairing D. That’s great, but that also means that we’d need to get 1 or 2 D-men better than him to play first pairing minutes for him to excel in the role he should be playing.

  • vetinari

    Be careful of throwing long term contracts at defencemen because they had one or two “good” seasons recently (see: Ballard, Montador, Komisarek, Colaiacovo, Gill).

    I’d rather sign him to a one or two year deal to see if he fits in with the team and with Eakins’ plans, otherwise, he could become a future compliance buyout like the above defencemen.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    On a somewhat related topic, what the heck happened to Kevin Klein? I felt nervous for the Rangers every time Klein had to move the puck. I remember Klein being much better in Nashville and it wasn’t because he was paired with Weber or Suter.

  • Zarny

    Stralman is not a top pairing D. He’s a very good 2nd pairing D not much different than Jeff Petry.

    If you throw Stralman out against top lines for 20+ min a night he’ll get railroaded against the big teams in the West.

    Mark Fayne would be a much better signing on the right-side because he compliments Petry and Schultz’ deficiencies better.

    • pkam

      So why do we want to sign Stralman to 4.5M if we could possibly sign Petry and Schultz to 4M or less?

      Look like Petry will be as good and Schultz has potential to be the best of the 3.

        • pkam

          I see.

          But do you think Stralman will do better than Petry if he has to play top pairing with Marincin in a bad team with average goaltending?

          I worry we are swapping a better player for a worse.

          • Tikkanese

            Did you watch the playoffs at all? Stralman is better than Petry.

            Neither are a top pairing guy unless they were paired with an absolute stud, like Seidenberg/Boychuk are with Chara.

          • pkam

            No, I didn’t.

            But I remember Pisani was very good in the 2006 playoff as well.

            Petry is playing #1D pairing with a 21 year old rookie in a bad team. So I wonder how good will Stralman do if he is put in the same situation, and not in front of Henrik Lundqvist.

  • pkam

    I am sure that he wants to test the open market, but if he is a legit second pairing, why would the Rangers not breakdown the door to resign this guy? Is ne not worth $5million to the Rangers?

    In Oiler currency he is worth $4.2 million, and that’s probably what Petry is looking for.

    • Jason Gregor

      McDonagh was 16th in the NHL in ES points for a D-man. Girardi was 53rd, both in top-60 and on par for top pair guys.

      Stralman played only 60 fewer ES minutes than McDonagh, but had half the ES points.

      My concern about Stralman is that he is on the ice for ES goals, but never gets any points. So is he benefiting from just being on the ice, or does he impact the play. That is what the Oilers scouts need to look at on video.

      • Tikkanese

        Well it was a major breakout year for McDonagh.

        They have been the top pair there for a few years and between them their best season before this past season was 32 points. Not exactly big point producing machines over their careers. Awesome defencemen though.

        I hear you on Stralman. To me he is a slight upgrade over Petry but the Oilers need at least two major defense upgrades over Petry if they want to knock on the playoff door.

        The Leafs tried for years under J.F. Jr. and Burke acquiring 8-10 mid-bottom pairing D every season hoping some would shine and it never happened. I fear the same will happen here.

  • Tikkanese

    “I’m still not a huge believer that Corsi tells us everything”

    I have never heard any “stats guy” (Kent Wilson, Azevedo, JW, Gabe Desjardins) ever claim that Corsi tells us everything. Not sure why you expect it to 🙂