Undoubtedly one of the unexpected surprises for the Rangers in this post season has been Anton Stralman. Stralman had a solid regular season for the Rangers, especially given that he arrived after the pre-season. That said no one could have foreseen Stralman playing as well as he has in the playoffs thus far. It has been a massive bonus for the Rangers.
While we have discussed the likelihood of Stralman’s next contract being elsewhere before (due to probable contract demands), perhaps a point we haven’t touched upon enough is whether the Rangers should seek to retain Stralman after this season.
Stralman has ensured the poor play of Stu Bickel hasn’t been too costly this off season. He has provided offense and has been solid in his own end. It goes without saying that Stralman is an NHL player next season. With Dylan McIlrath and Tim Erixon progressing to the point they may be viable candidates next year (Erixon especially so) there may not be a point in bringing back Stralman. However, the Rangers possess one of the best defence’s in the league and Stralman is part of that deep group.
The Rangers should at the very least find out what the cost of keeping Stralman will be (make no mistake, Sather will do just that) and at the right price Stralman makes sense. Bickel has regressed enough in recent weeks to cast doubt over his long term suitability and McIlrath would likely be best served by starting with the Whale next year. In addition, being more offense first than the rest of the blue line corps aside from Del Zotto, Stralman provides a little more balance to the unit. With a season in the Rangers system he could be even better next year.
We have seen the borderline ridiculous minutes Girardi, McDonagh and co. have been logging – exaggerated more so in the playoffs – and Stralman being capable of playing 16+ minutes a night during the regular season would go some way in easing the burden on the top four. With his impressive play Stralman is ensuring he has an NHL future. The Rangers should try and make that future (at least in the short term) with them.