Stralman’s Short Stay

December 30, 2011, by

One of the more underrated aspects of the Rangers recent impressive stretch is Anton Stralman stepping up and playing solidly on the second pair. Increased minutes (17/game), sound defense (+9 rating) and a decent offensive game (5 assists in just 12 games); Stralman has helped ease the Rangers through a torrid stretch of injuries on their blue line. However, we probably shouldn’t get used to Stralman patrolling the Rangers blue line.

There’s a very good chance Stralman is auditioning for the rest of the NHL. The Rangers are pretty stacked on the blue line. With Marc Staal and Mike Sauer set to return and with Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Mike Del Zotto all core pieces of the blue line going forward there’s only really one spot left to fight over on the blue line with lots of candidates aiming for that spot six.

The also-impressive (surprising) Stu Bickel, Dylan McIlrath and Tim Erixon will all also be in the mix for the final spot next season. Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka (at this point in time) may also be considered, especially Eminger. Hopefully with Erixon getting big minutes in CT, he’ll be ready for a full time NHL role next season making competition at camp intense.

Stralman could be a viable candidate from the Rangers point of view. As we’ve said, he’s proven he can handle minutes and make plays at both ends of the ice but the main reason he’s probably not a realistic option for next year is price. The better Stralman plays, the higher his price will be. He may command double his current 900k on the open market. He may command more. Warped theory suggests that the Rangers want to hope they can’t afford him next year because it’ll mean he’s played well enough to command a raise.

The thing is, while the actual $$/sum for Stralman may not be prohibitive the Rangers likely won’t want to invest too much more money in the defensive part of the roster, especially with new deals (AKA raises) on the horizon for Del Zotto and McDonagh. With significant salaries already tied into Staal and Girardi, and the aforementioned raises on the blue line due, the more realistic options are a cheap contract like Eminger or a prospect like Bickel.

The best case scenario for Rangers fans is Stralman plays out an impressive season and earns himself a good contract in the NHL; maybe with the Rangers, probably not. Here’s hoping both the Rangers and the fans enjoy this very public audition. It’s in everyone’s interests it keeps going well.


  1. Zen says:

    Completely agree. Enjoy his strong play, but realize he won’t be back next season. His salary demands will be a non-starter with Erixon and McIlrath knocking on the door.

  2. Dave says:

    It’s going to be interesting to watch the battle for the final spot next year. McIlrath/Erixon are the only people being “groomed” for that spot.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      It will be interesting, but I think Erixon will have the edge because they’ll want McIlrath to play some pro games, ala McDonagh and Erixon.

      More interesting will be whether next year is the year they stop putting a veteran on the 3rd pair, trusting Staal and Girardi to be the veterans of the D.

      • Dave says:

        Well when Staal/Sauer come back you have to assume Woywitka/Bickel are gone. That leaves Emmy as the 7th guy.

      • Dave says:

        I’d have to guess the pairings would be Staal/Girardi, McDonagh/Sauer, MDZ/Stralman.

  3. Walt says:

    Maybe by season end, and trade dead line, we can turn him into some assits.

    Who would ever have thought that with the rash of injuries, we would find a gem, sort of speak, and then have to let him go because we are loaded with terrific d-men in the system.

    Asking a question here, do you, or anyone else on this blog, see any of the other d-men being moved because we have too many in the system? I sure as heck don’t, you never have too many good d-men.

    In closing, Happy New Year to all my Ranger blogers, and may you all be healthy, and get everything you wish for!!!!!

  4. Chris F says:

    I’m not sure why we’re evening discussing Erixson or McIlrath. When all are healthy, our starting 6 are:
    Staal/Girardi, McDonagh/Del Zotto, Suaer/Eminger. Players like Erixson, Bickel and McIlrath will be playing with the Whale to gain experience, unless injuries give cause to bring them up. Woywitka and Stralman will be traded or signed elsewhere, in my opinion.