Following up on the Rangers RFAs, who received their qualifying offers last month, defenseman Anton Stralman –the only RFA eligible for artbitraion– filed for arbitration by yesterday’s deadline. Stralman’s qualifying offer was $945,000, a 5% increase on his $900,000 salary from last season.
Stralman is now a big piece for the Rangers to sign, and it’s something they are at least attempting to do. At the moment, Dan Girardi is the only defenseman that is guaranteed a roster spot that is a right handed shot. Stu Bickel is also a right handed shot, but there are no guarantees that he receives substantial playing time.
After signing a contract in November of last season, Stralman saw limited ice time until he was forced into the lineup when Steve Eminger, Jeff Woywitka, and Mike Sauer went down with injuries. When he finally got his chance, the 25-year-old defenseman exceeded expectations and eventually found himself on the second pairing with Michael Del Zotto.
Despite seeing limited action, Stralman still managed to finish with a line of 2-16-18 in 53 games, but it was in the playoffs where Stralman shined. While playing top-four minutes on a team playing with five defensemen, Stralman managed to chip in three goals and three assists in the Rangers run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It was widely reported that he would be returning to Europe for family reasons, but filing for arbitration likely means that Stralman is at least considering staying in the NHL for next season. All the focus is on the Rangers pursuit of Rick Nash, but re-signing Stralman would be a significant move for the Rangers, as he fills a pretty big hole on the blue line.