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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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? 

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Recently by Jason Gregor:


  • For the 4.5 million range. I would rather take a chance on.

    Kyle Quincey
    Mezraros

    They might not even cost as much, near the same age and have played higher up the core at times.

    To me Quincey is a good fit for the Oilers.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Really good, balanced piece Jason.

    I really appreciate you engaging in a wide variety of arguments and giving them your attention and thought.

    Just wanted to poke around the idea of 5×4.25M (which looks about right to me based on market expectations) vs. say 5x5M…

    I wonder if you aren’t letting the 5M mark act as a psychological barrier? I mean .75M isn’t that huge a difference (mind you, it’s not nothing either… that’s basically Gazdic’s salary right there).

    But, think through the scenario… he’s a UFA so you need to leverage cap space into an attractive offer.

    If you think 4.25M is a fair deal… is an over-pay of .75M really so out of bounds to ensure you get your player?

    On the UFA market a slight over pay makes sense to me, esp. for a team in EDM’s position. Getting the right player is the most important thing.

    • Jason Gregor

      I used $5 million, because many have thrown it out. Basically as a guideline or comparison to those who make $5 mill.

      My concern is that he is ultimately a 2nd pairing D-man, a very good one, and so is $5 mill too much long-term.

      Right now, no 2nd pairs get that much, but at $4.25 he would compare nicely with very good 2nd pair guys like Hjalmarsson.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        I hear that. Completely.

        But a couple of things to consider… how many of those 2nd pairing guys signed UFA deals? UFA deals are always inflated.

        And, I still think a team like EDM can afford a modest overpay (.75M using this range) on the UFA market in order to get the right player.

        For me, getting the right player is more important this off season than value (barring some extremely disproportionate contracts)

      • Kodiak

        You are bang on in your assessment that good second pairing guys are in that $4m – $4.5m range. The big issue is the cap is going up, there aren’t a whole lot of options, and we are the Edmonton Oilers. Combine these things and I think nothing less than $5m gets him here. I do think he is a top end second pairing guy that can play 1st pairing EV minutes if we need him to. He is a serious upgrade on anyone else we have aside from Petry and we have capspace so I’d give him $5 – $5.25m x 5 all day long.

        There are a few people saying no to Stralman but none of them had suggestions as to who can we realistically acquire that is better?

    • pkam

      Exactly. Since when do beggars get to be chosers. If Mac can sign 2-3 stralman types for 2-4 years id consider the offseason a success in terms of the defence.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    i have already heard crazy money being thrown around for guys like Markov, who apparently? is asking for a 3 year, $18 mil dollar contract, so realistically, what can Stralman command as an asking price? similar money? $5 mil/per? should the Oilers even be looking at another small-ish d-man?

  • Lexi

    I like Stralman a lot. I thought he looked really good in the playoffs and I think he would be a great fit and mentor for Klefbom, who stylistically is very similar to Staal. I think it would be okay to go as high as $4.5 for him and my gut says that won’t get him.

    I think Markov is the better fit as a high end Left shot Dman, and then we go with a budget 3rd pairing RH Dman like Weaver/Bellemore. I would rather have Markov at $6.5 over Stralman at $5. I think Markov at a 3 yr overpay is a good bet as in his 3rd year we have to hope at least two of Marancin/Klefbom/Nurse are legit top 4 D on value contracts.

  • Kodiak

    The grass is NOT greener on the other side…….signing this guy would be a great example of what we have done in the past and should be avoiding.

    Keep our own…………sign Anttivinene Markinnentinnvijjii!

  • Sorensenator

    Five million for a D man that had Staal, Girardi, McDonagh ahead of him and the most any of those make is 5.5 million? McDonagh makes 4.7 million, come on.

    I’m not opposed to signing this player, however 3.5 million is an accurate ball park range and more then fair for a defenseman that doesn’t provide any offence.

  • 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 🙂

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Am is missing something? Doesn’t his high o-zone starts have everything to do with what situations the coach puts/keeps him on the ice and nothing to do with him driving the puck into the o-zone? To me high o-zone starts means he was being sheltered by the coach.

    • Jason Gregor

      That is not always the case. That was my point. He could also be in the offensive zone more often getting shots on goal that result in faceoff in the O zone and he stays on the ice.

      Do you think a coach would put him out in the offensive zone for every start, despite the fact he produces no offence?

      Based on your theory Justin Schultz should have a higher OZ start %, but he doesn’t because the Oilers are rarely in the O zone.

      OZ starts doesn’t only mean the coach is hiding the player. Coaches don’t change their D for every offensive zone faceoff.

      • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

        Turns out that our discussion was based on incorrect data so is really moot.

        Stralman’s zone starts last year were actually very evenly distributed (per extraskater.com)

        31% – OZone
        30% – DZone
        39% – NZone

        His 5v5 Corsi of 57% is much more impressive given these actual numbers than it look based your original number of 50+% Ozone starts.

  • DonEnrico

    I watched him play in Skövde IK, it must have been like a decade ago, and despite being a junior, he was by far the best player. But I didn’t think he’d make it to NHL and definetly not make himself a name as a defensive D-man.

    So I wouldn’t bet against him improving himself even more, however my bet is that he resigns with NYR and never makes it to UFA.

    But since he comes from my part of Sweden, it would be awesome to have him as an Oiler!

  • Stralman made 1.8 million last year. I don’t think it will take 4 million to get him but who knows. 3 to 3.5 million for 4 years is quite reasonable. If we start paying 4-5 million for our 2nd pairing dmen, we will never be able to afford our top pairing guy.

  • Crackenbury

    Is everything I have come to understand about OZ starts wrong? Lowetide would be discounting Stralman as being sheltered for his high OZ starts and praising Petry. I’m pretty sure you can’t refer to this guy as a shutdown defender when most of his starts are in the OZ. Maybe someone can explain what else makes Stralman a shutdown d-man? From what I see he’s no better and maybe worse than the young guys we’ve already got in the lineup.

  • If New York and EDM are both offering $4.25-4.5M to him wouldn’t you push the income tax issue? He could have a lot more take home in Alberta than in NY. Not to mention the much cheaper cost of living.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      If NYR are in the range of the EDM offer, he’ll pick NYR.

      He just about won a cup there. He says he likes it there (they always say that… but he still said it).

      You have to sweeten the pot with $$ or term.

  • The Oilers really shouldn’t be throwing anything close to $5M for a player that doesn’t tick off at least 3-4 boxes. High minutes, reasonable points, effective defender in front of net, limited chaos, age, good size, leadership, heavy shot…. We can debate which assets are the most critical but surely 3-4 must be the minimum? Stralman doesn’t hit many of them from my perspective. I’d rather pay a bit more (UFA/dollars and or trade) for someone on the list Gregor presents or the secondary list just below them (e.g.Boychuk). If that player isn’t available this year, then sit tight and plug in a few vets to stop the bleeding.

      • Spydyr

        The who and how is up to the GM.I am not in daily contact with NHL GM’s to see who is available at what price but remember that Gretzky was traded/sold so any deal is possible for the right price.Pronger has been traded a few times.

        Mac-T has to balance the team more.Less small skilled wingers more top pairing defencman.A true second line center would be nice also.

        Honestly, I don’t see it happening.One more high draft pick.

  • I think what you can do with those numbers is be quite assured that he can be at least a good second pairing defenceman, but that the numbers suggest it’s quite possible he may be better than that.

    The other thing is that Stralman, because he doesn’t put up a lot of points, and isn’t a big, physical defender, might slip under the radar a bit for a lot of teams.

    In other words, I think he’s a potential value buy.

    I wouldn’t be thrilled about spending five million on him either, but that’s because I specifically am interested in him as a possibility for a guy who may actually outperform a UFA contract. But I wouldn’t mind it, either, on a shorter term deal. Five and a half, even, on a three year deal? Sure. Four and a half over five years? Yeah, either way works for me. Would be a little leery of going over three years AND over five million, though.

  • Tikkanese

    I’m struggling with this statement:

    “It is seems odd to me that a guy with such good Corsi numbers.”

    Also, why do people fall all over themselves over Stralman? He has good, not great, underlying numbers, playing as a #4 dman on a very good team.

    I’m going to take a beating for this, and I know this is conjecture, but put Stralman on the Oilers, and those numbers take a big hit for two reasons – the Oilers are much worse as a team defensively, and Stralman will most likely be forced to play higher on the depth chart than suits his skill level. Next thing you know, the fanbase is calling for blood because we’re overpaying an under-performing, under-sized defenseman.

    For an example of this, I don’t think you need to look any further than our dear Jeff Petry. Again, this is conjecture, but if Petry were in Stralman’s position with the Rangers (ie, playing #4 minutes on a good team), I would argue he would be able to perform at the same or even higher level than Stralman. Instead, he’s forced to play #1 RHD minutes on a poor team, he gets exposed on a nightly basis, and consequently fans here see a quality dman, making under $2MM a year, as nothing special.

    The Oilers don’t need a $4.5MM, second pairing RH dman. They need a true top pairing RH dman. And they don’t come cheap, unless you’ve drafted one and he’s on a value deal (hello, Ekblad!). And if the Oilers tie up almost $5 million bucks on their second pairing guy, how will they ever afford to bring in a $6.5MM guy for the top pairing? They won’t.

    Bring in someone who will push everyone else down the depth chart to where they can succeed. I know that it is MUCH easier said than done, but if they can’t bring in that player this year, then for God’s sake, don’t burn the money/cap space on players that aren’t worth it. Keep your powder dry for when that guy IS available.

  • 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.

  • 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

    @JG

    What happen to Markov? He is making over 5M this year and is asking 6M for his new contract. Why is he not in you list of defenseman making 5M or more?

    And how is his number in Columbus compare to Petry? I think he was 25-26 then and in a bad team. Was he playing the top pairing then and against the tough opponents, or just 2nd paring? If he was playing 2nd pairing then, would Petry turn out better than him playing the 2nd pairing in a bad team? If he sign him to play the top pairing, what do you think his number will be? Will it be worse than Petry?

    • Jason Gregor

      Markov doesn’t have a contract, so I didn’t include him. He turns 36 in December, so I wonder if teams will be leery to sign him long term.

      Markov was a $5.75 cap hit for the past 7 seasons, If he wants three years at his age, I don’t see him getting the same. If he goes for a shorter term, then he could get a higher salary. Teams are leery of recapture penalty on players over 35.

      I didn’t include him, because I’m not certain he gets $5 million. Same reason I didn’t include Dan Boyle. I’m not sure what his cap hit will be as a 38 year old D-man.

      Stralman was a 3rd pair guy in Columbus, he didn’t play top minutes or hard minutes. He was 22 his first year in CBJ, but what he was 5 years ago is different than what he is now. He has matured and found his game now that he is 27.

      Hard to compare him and Petry. No way of knowing for sure if Petry will improve as much as Stralman has.

      • pkam

        Gonchar was signed to 2 years @5M by the Stars at 39, and Mark Streit was signed to 4 years @5.25M by the Flyers at 35, so I don’t think it will be a problem for Markov to get 5M for 4 years or less, Boyle at 38 may be questionable.

        But if Boyle is available at 5M for 2 years and Markov at 6M for 3 years, I don’t mind the Oilers pick up both of them to fill the gap.

  • 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.

  • 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.