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?

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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.

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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. 

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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?

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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.

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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:


  • Quicksilver ballet

    He’s exactly what’s needed. He won’t cost any assets. Don’t tell him what you think he’s worth, let him tell you what he’ll come here for. Pull a Costanza and do everything opposite on this one. See if there’s a match.

    Go get him.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    He is a defence men the oilers could use on the second pairing but he is gunna be worth 5+ Mil on the open market and at that price I wouldn’t want him. If the oilers are gunna throw 5+ Mil at a dman it has to be someone that can make a pass out of the zone and produce more than just a mere pulse of offence. If his contract is at the highest 4.1 mil (I believe) which is the same as hjarlmason then I would grab him.

    Off topic but I hear a gagner for josh bailey rumours throughout the bloggers for the oilers a lot and all I have to say is HECK NO! Bailey has a worse points per game than gagner and I’m talking 0.44 points per game. He isn’t overly big and doesn’t show any kind of veteran defensive center play in his game. He would be a huge disappointment for the oilers. He would be a third/fourth liner on any of the cup contending teams. The oilers need a work horse for a second line center. Players like Bergeron, statsny, spezza, or RYAN O’REILLY. Guys that can play that veteran style of play at center.

    Oilers just need to plug holes with veterans that can teach the kids how to win and with the massive price stralman is about to get it won’t benefit the oilers in the long run. He is a solid #4defence men on a Stanley cup finals team but he isn’t worth the price of a #2 defence men.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    There are going to be many teams after Stralman, so if the Oilers are going to get him, it’s going to be on a contract that hurts a little. Thankfully we have the cap room to be able to take that pain. I can’t see him coming here for less than $5 million a season for 4-5 years, and assuming we don’t get someone like Mark Fayne or Matt Niskanen, I’d pay it.

    I’d also trade Klefbom (+) for an impact LHD. Going into the season with “Phaneuf”-Stralman, Marincin-Petry, Ference-Schultz as the defense instantly starts us off on a better foot than last year. Losing Klefbom would suck, but we’d still have Nurse, Marincin, Simpson, and Gernat as LHD with legit NHL potential.

    Stralman is also young enough that if we need to trade him in 2-3 years for cap reasons, there are likely going to be buyers, or at the very least, we’ll be able to Horcoff him. I’d sign him. Make the team better.

  • Jason Gregor

    He is a defence men the oilers could use on the second pairing but he is gunna be worth 5+ Mil on the open market and at that price I wouldn’t want him. If the oilers are gunna throw 5+ Mil at a dman it has to be someone that can make a pass out of the zone and produce more than just a mere pulse of offence. If his contract is at the highest 4.1 mil (I believe) which is the same as hjarlmason then I would grab him.

    Off topic but I hear a gagner for josh bailey rumours throughout the bloggers for the oilers a lot and all I have to say is HECK NO! Bailey has a worse points per game than gagner and I’m talking 0.44 points per game. He isn’t overly big and doesn’t show any kind of veteran defensive center play in his game. He would be a huge disappointment for the oilers. He would be a third/fourth liner on any of the cup contending teams. The oilers need a work horse for a second line center. Players like Bergeron, statsny, spezza, or RYAN O’REILLY. Guys that can play that veteran style of play at center.

    Oilers just need to plug holes with veterans that can teach the kids how to win and with the massive price stralman is about to get it won’t benefit the oilers in the long run. He is a solid #4defence men on a Stanley cup finals team but he isn’t worth the price of a #2 defence men.

  • Tikkanese

    I have an issue with him being, first… not the big defender type the Oilers actually seriously need,
    secondly,… his point production is not worthy of between 4 to five million a yr, especially when there are many who do not wish five million per year for each of Petry or Schultz, and also, third,… his given known skills/abilities do not warrant the reduction of playing experience/time for Klefbom or Marancin.

    If the Oilers wish to improve their defence pairings then this is not the guy. The Oilers need good skating minute eating defenders at say…at least 6’1″ to 6’5″ and at least about 210 to 255 lbs.

    We have the offence puckhandling type of smallish guys to big guys already with Marancin, Schultz and Petry. But these guys are not mean enough nor do they hit enough. We have only one such guy who hits, fights, and defends and he is not a huge guy himself…named Ference. Ference is the capatain but he plays more shut-down 2nd/3rd pairing rated time at this stage of his career.

    This means the Oilers need that stable, tough and mean, big/huge, non-panicking defenceman (actually 2) who can skate/defend and break up the other bigger teams’ players like the Kings, Sharks, Coyotes, Buffalo, Tampa, Toronto, etc.

    In the end…the Oilers should not/must not be looking at paying anyone between 4 to 5 million per year for an average smallish type guy. The Oilers are still too small at forward per average so as to have more small type defencemen.

    THATS A BAD BAD COMBINATION already proven these last few years.

    Hell… for example seemingly the team is not happy with Fedun apparently, even despite that he is a little younger, he is just as good a defenceman as Stralman, and that Fedun can pass well, skate decenlyt, and better too is that he is bigger than Stralman…plus/plus…he will be far cheaper.

    Ror $3 to $4 to $5/6 million per year average….there are several other better trade/UFA choices, especially for guys with abilities/size like Phaneuf (with salary taken back by Tor), Meszarov, Boychuk, Nikitin, Niskanen, Greene, etc.

    Hey….if this type of seeking more small and expensive players continues then the booing/whining about more losses and losses will still echo loudly all next season and maybe more seasons.

    • Kodiak

      Petry is 6’3″ and Marincin is 6’4″ and hopefully 200lbs this year, 210lbs next year. If you watched the playoffs you would have seen that positioning, being strong on the puck and having good puck movement were a lot more important than big bodychecks. We don’t need a Matt Greene that can’t move the puck. Ference, the guy you say that hits, fights, is tough etc is exactly the same size as Stralman, and like Ference he doesn’t play small either.

      Your suggestion that Fedun is as good as Stralman is extremely comical, you didn’t list one free agent that is as good as Stalman and getting a deal done to acquire Phaneuf or Boychuk would be very unlikely.