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The curious case of Anton Stralman’s season

Stralman's had an itneresting statistical season.

Stralman’s had an interesting statistical season.

Anton Stralman has solidified himself as a great option for defense, especially when he slides into the bottom pairing. He has proven to be worth the contract he has been signed to ($1.7 million through next season), and provides the Rangers with an incredibly deep blue line when everyone is healthy. In the salary cap era, clubs need to find cheap talent, and the Rangers have found that in Stralman.

That said, Stralman’s 2013 campaign has been very interesting. He’s not lighting the lamp, though he’s not really that type of defenseman, but he’s been playing a fairly solid two-way game. When looking at his metrics, he leads all Ranger defensemen with a whopping 17.0 RCorsi, which is absolutely absurd. That 17.0 RCorsi is better than puck possession monster Carl Hagelin and superstar Rick Nash. It’s actually mind-boggling good.

But Stralman’s performance isn’t against the best of the best. His -0.727 Corsi Rel QoC (fourth among defensemen) is fairly bad, meaning he’s getting favorable matchups against weaker competition. That does skew the absurd RCorsi, as does his 56.7% OZone starts.

When you put those three together, you have a player that coach John Tortorella has been sheltering to an extent, which you can see from the lovely Player Usage Charts at HockeyAbstract.com.

Side note: There’s an option to embed the charts, but they haven’t worked at all when I’ve tried. Has anyone else had this issue?

Stralman may actually be the most sheltered Ranger defenseman that plays regularly. You can argue Michael Del Zotto, but his Corsi Rel QoC is higher, and you can attribute the extra O Zone starts to Torts using his offensive weapons in good spots. Of course, MDZ’s RCorsi is nowhere near Stralman’s, which is why his metrics are incredibly interesting.

Stralman has shown he is more than capable of dominating puck possession against his current matchups, and it makes you wonder if he would succeed if he were given tougher matchups. We’ve seen him fill in as a top-four guy, and he was able to hold his own. It’s been small sample sizes, but what we’ve seen shows he’s capable.

Perhaps Stralman’s puck possession prowess is best served on that bottom pairing when Marc Staal returns. Pairing Stralman with swift skating John Moore provides the Rangers with a strong third pairing, and Stralman would still be getting the favorable matchups. There’s no way to predict that without actually seeing Stralman and Moore together as a pairing for a long period of time. But for now, Stralman’s strong puck possession season is a pleasant surprise.

14 Responses to “The curious case of Anton Stralman’s season”

  1. the man, the myth, the guy says:

    i need a good, tell all overview of these baseball-esque hockey metrics. can you recommend a good article or two? appreciate it.

  2. the man, the myth, the guy says:

    thank you kindly good sirs.

  3. Chris F says:

    I’m actually not all that surprised by Stralman’s positive Corsi numbers (though the specific of +17 is incredible), especially given the caliber of his competition. He’s been quite poised with the puck and clears the zone well, the first step to a positive shot differential.

    Plus, let’s not forget Stralman’s crucial playoff performance last year. His offensive production was hugely important. What a great acquisition.

  4. Walt says:

    If McIlrath makes the team next season, Stralman may well be the best #7 defensman in the NHL! With his knowledge of Tort’s system, he can give any of the other six nights off without much of a drop off in talent.

    • Tim B says:

      That is possible. What if Staal has a setback or is traded in the offseason? That is also possible.

      • Dave says:

        A Staal setback is more likely than a Staal trade. You don’t get top-4 guys for a $3.975m cap hit that often.

    • Dave says:

      I think McIlrath needs at least another half season in the AHL. His knee injury slowed his development a bit.

  5. Fotiu is God says:

    Shinny Swami:
    Are we ruling out a return from Mike Sauer in 2K14?

    • Dave says:

      Not only do I believe his career is done, but I don’t think the Rangers re-sign him. He’s an RFA.

      • Fotiu is God says:

        Bummer.

        Both he, brother Kurt had way too abbreviated careers.

        Mike Sauer was the closest battle-tank we had treading the blueline since Beuk, Rich Pilon or Ulfie Samuelsson.

        Let’s hope The Undertaker gets wheels, if not critical mobility/turning beneath him.