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Despite playoff performance, Rangers should look beyond Anton Stralman

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

So far in the playoffs (a few hiccups aside) and after every additional game, Anton Stralman is getting more expensive for the New York Rangers to retain. As such, the team should already be considering moving on from the solid yet unspectacular blueliner.

If rumours are true that Stralman rejected a three year, $9 million dollar deal from the Rangers back in March, then he’s already auditioning for July’s free agency. Over the past few months Stralman’s value certainly won’t have lessened and Stralman’s agent will also know about the general lack of quality blueliners available this summer. It should certainly be a seller’s market (and another reason the Rangers need to handle Marc Staal’s contract situation as a matter of priority).

Allowing Stralman to leave may be a hit to the franchise in the short term, but it gives the Rangers a chunk of extra cap space to work with and gives them the opportunity to assess the options already within the franchise. Looking at several clubs in the playoffs this season, teams have been unafraid to throw in younger blueliners and let them grow into prominent roles. As a possession based club, the Rangers could do the same and not suffer any significant growing pains.

Boston has benefitted from Torey Krug and Kevan Miller patrolling the blueline, and both have played major roles in the postseason for the powerhouse Bruins. Tampa Bay has benefited hugely this year from Radko Gudas’s development. Colorado thrust Tyson Barrie into a prominent role and he has rewarded them with a strong season at both ends of the rink.

It’s easy for Boston to push top prospects such as Dougie Hamilton or Columbus to do the same with Ryan Murray, but the real talent (and value)is developing less heralded, cheaper options. Boston aside (who boast perennial Norris candidate Zdeno Chara), do any of the aforementioned playoff teams or other clubs in the league benefit from the top three blueliners that the Rangers can utilize to protect their youngsters?

With Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi eating up the major minutes, the theory is that any young players injected into the Rangers line-up next year could be well protected. There’s no reason a Conor Allen, Dylan McIlrath or a more mature prospect such as Matt Bodie can’t have a similar impact to those mentioned above (the blue chippers aside).

Anton Stralman has grown into a solid top four blueliner for the Rangers (although he excels at no particular aspect of the game), but given the depth the club have at the NHL level and the contracts they need to deal with up front (Kreider, Brassard, Zuccarello, Pouliot, etc) he has become a luxury that’s only getting more expensive.

Several clubs around the NHL have shown the Rangers the way forward with how to handle young defensemen. They have shown the Rangers that they can move on from Stralman and not worry about the fallout. Let someone else overpay and invest in Stralman. The time is right for the Rangers to invest in their own.

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16 Responses to “Despite playoff performance, Rangers should look beyond Anton Stralman”

  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I would like to see the Rangers sign Clayton Stoner if Stralman leaves and also believe it is time for McIlrath to start playing. Stralman has been a great addition to the Rangers. Skeij is probably the replacement for Staal. It would be nice to know what Staal’s plans are. Not knowing the Rangers have to go with the mind set he is leaving, if so he needs to be traded as well. We already lost out on Cally in a bad way with 2 1st rounders and St Louis.

  2. Chris F says:

    If, as his agent claims, Stralman never rejected the 3 year / $9 million offer, would you sign him to that deal?

    • Chris says:

      Personally no I wouldn’t. I’d give him 3m but not longer than 2 years. He’s a good player but don’t want to block kids coming through.

      • Snake says:

        I agree you give him 2 years and you pay him a bit more then 3mil if that is what it takes. I don’t think for a team in “Win Now” mode with a rising cap that 1m per season is an issue on a 2 year contract. If his market value really is 4 mil per season, then sign him and deal him and get something back in return. Letting him walk UFA would just be silly.

  3. Dave says:

    Tom Gilbert from Florida is a similar player to Stralman. Should come cheap too.

  4. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Solid article, Chris.

    I’m in the same boat as you. Especially considering the Rangers already have $4.7 (McDonagh) and $2.9 (Klein) million dollar commitments to their right side D pairings, I think it becomes unwise to resign Stralman.

    From a salary cap perspective, they would be in a much better position with McIlrath or Diaz to step in on the right side @ a significantly lower caphit.

  5. AD says:

    I would advocate resigning Stralman and assessing options during the draft or season. There is no reason why he cannot be traded at a later date when the Rangers have more options available to assess than simply the free agent pool.

    One of this team’s strengths is its depth and having a solid defensive top 6 allows for McIlrath and Allen to develop on their time.

    Staal publicly stated after Callahan was traded he wants his contract addressed during the off-season and not have it linger. We’ll see if Sather takes this route but I think he was surprised at the lack of trade value for an impending UFA (Callahan) during this past trade deadline (Vanek is another example that brought little value).

    • Chris says:

      Vanek and Cally also brought back ‘little’ because its widely acknowledged both would test free agency

  6. Walt says:

    At the end of he season, we thank Stralman for his services, and let him walk. He has priced himself out of the market, and we have good kids in the system to replace him, so again, thank him for his services, and show him the door!

    I believe that Mc Ilrath will be given a real shot for one of the seven d-men positions. He also brings something that is lacking from this team, grit.

    As for Staal, I would hate to see him go, but if he does indeed wants to play with his brothers, then try to work out a deal with Carolina, or any other takers who may have an interest.

  7. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Poll: What should the Rangers do with Staal…
    A) If he does not want to sign with the Rangers
    B) If he does sign should the Rangers go after Eric Staal?
    C) Rick Nash….is he a keeper?
    D) St Louis….is he a keeper?
    E) Richards, buy out or a keeper?
    I know that Pouliot, Brassard and Zuccarello have to be signed. They have been the best secondary scoring or actually based on results primary scoring we have had in a while. With all due respect they have to be secondary scoring and not our primary.

    F) This game 3, insert Diaz in?

  8. Gary says:

    a) Why wouldn’t he? But if not, got to trade for value.
    b) No too expensive in $ and in kids.
    c) I have no problem w/ Nash. That said, I’d trade him if we could get near what Columbus got from us.
    d) Only thru his contract.
    e) Buy out, written with brain not heart.

  9. Gary says:

    Forgot f) For who, Moore? I wouldn’t. Maybe Klein, who looked a little daffy last game. But not really itching to sub in Diaz for any of the D.

  10. The Suit says:

    Nice post Chris. Did you catch Stralman crediting Torts the other day? Good piece here from nj.com

    http://www.nj.com/rangers/index.ssf/2014/05/rangers_anton_stralman_accepts_power_play_challenge_reflects_on_john_tortorella_and_devils_days.html

  11. Tim B says:

    We can trade the “rights” to another team for a draft pick correct? They need to take advantage of that. No way he’s back in blue at that price.

  12. Blueshirt In Paris says:

    He should be signed and traded away. He has to realize that the club helped him resurrect his career. He deserves to get paid now but he has to understand that we just are not in the right place to be able to afford that type of player right now.

    Give him the money with a no-trade clause. Somebody will take him and Nash ;)

  13. Frank Cerbone says:

    People forget Rangers are struggling because
    high priced guys like St Louis, Nash, & Richards do not perform at a level consistent with their
    salaries.

    Stralman, Zuccarello, & Pouliot all deserve more.

    Richards will be gone, St Louis needs to be sent down to Hartford, & hope that some idiot team claims him on waivers.

    Losing Callahan, a #1, and a #2 for an invisible St Louis just doesn’t make sense.

    Next year looks like a rebuilding year.
    Niskanen looks like a nice right handed, all around defenseman but Sather probably looking at
    90 year old Jagr again.

    Rangers don’t have many of the 7 rd picks this season that most teams have in this strong draft.