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Stralman rewarding management with play

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

When the Rangers inked Anton Stralman to his one-year deal last season, many looked at it as a great low risk option to help round out the defense. After spending the first month of the season attempting to prove himself to the coaching staff, Stralman eventually saw top-four minutes while filling in for the injured Michael Sauer and recovering Marc Staal. He earned himself a two-year, $3.4 million deal in the offseason with his strong play.

In the salary cap age, getting a bang for your buck is one of the most important factors in offseason decisions. Stralman doubled his salary, and now is carrying an almost $2 million cap hit. With that increased salary comes increased expectations. At a bare minimum, Stralman would have to repeat his performance last season –specifically in the playoffs– to be “worth” that contract. It took an injury for him to showcase his talent, but the young defenseman showed that Slats anc company made the right decision to retain him.

When Dan Girardi went down with his injury, we focused primarily on the hole on the bottom pairing (since rectified a bit by Matt Gilroy). But Stralman was forced into a role as a top-two defenseman with Ryan McDonagh. Stralman excelled in every aspect, elevating his game to a level we hadn’t seen before. Stralman showed he was capable of playing 25 minutes a night.

With Girardi’s return to the lineup last night, Stralman was shifted back down to a pairing with Gilroy, a player we talked about yesterday earning Torts’ trust. Neither player will see 25 minutes of ice time while playing on the bottom pairing. But with Gilroy able to take up 10 minutes and Stralman able to take up another 20 takes the stress off of the top four guys, specifically Girardi and McDonagh.

Depth goes a long way, especially come playoff time. We saw it last season when Stu Bickel was barely playing and the Rangers top-five guys were incredibly burned out by the time the Conference Finals rolled around. Starting to roll all six guys with regularity will keep everyone fresh in the truncated season. Stralman’s ability to play a dual role for this club (as a bottom-pairing guy and as a top-four guy) just adds to that much needed depth.

14 Responses to “Stralman rewarding management with play”

  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I have to say, Gilroy has played well and Stralman has earned time with Staal. MDZ has been ok not great. MDZ was too cute last night getting caught out of position a few times. Stralman should be playing with Staal

    • Dave says:

      It’s interesting you say that, because Stralman got 3 more minutes of ice time than MDZ, half of that on the PK.

    • AdamGravesisTheMan says:

      You’re forgetting that MDZ’s major appeal is his offensive abilities. The fact that he really improved his defense and +/- last year was a great bonus and while he has been caught out of position at times, he still has the offensive threat that Stralman lacks

      • Dave says:

        I’ve given up on trying to convince people that MDZ is actually a great asset for this team. People see the name and the number and think of his second year. They don’t look at the on-ice product of this season or last.

        • Cole says:

          I agree with you Dave but would argue that this season (so far) he hasn’t been as strong defensively as last

  2. Scully says:

    I’m glad Stralman and Gilroy have stepped up, It’s allowed Bickel to be what he should be, a 7th defenseman. Suddenly (barring injuries) our depth looks pretty good. I have no problem running Gilroy out there for 12 minutes a night in the bottom pairing. It’s what he’s supposed to be, and what a bottom-pair defenseman is supposed to be able to handle (as opposed to 3 minutes a night).

    • Dave says:

      I’d like a better 7th defenseman than Bickel and/or Eminger. Not sure what’s available though.

      • Scully says:

        Agreed. If only there was a Wade Redden available or something like that :D.

        In all seriousness maybe we swing a trade for a Cam Barker or something like that… a low risk guy who’s a free-agent at the end of the season.

        • Dave says:

          No to Barker. Good god no.

          It’s funny, I kind of wanted Redden as a 7th guy, but not at that price tag. At his under $1m price with STL, he’s great.

          I’d like them to trade for Doug Murray, even though Suit would disagree.

  3. supermaz says:

    I have liked Stralman from the beginning
    He should be on the first pp into.

  4. Jakki says:

    Worth noting is that Stralman is the only player, who has played all games, without penalty minutes so far.

  5. Walt says:

    Stralman is a steal, and he has EARNED his playing time. I, again would like to see him on the first PP unit!!!!

    • Dave says:

      Play him there while he’s hot. He’s definitely earned it.

      I agreed with Walt. Weird. Let’s see if we can do this again some time.