Posts tagged: Anton Stralman

Musings: the looking ahead edition

It truly is the low point of the off season. The Rangers are quiet, at least publicly, and attention around the league is primarily focussed on the CBA talks. There are still a few things we can talk about though so welcome to another musings. Jump on in.

The Hockey News wrote an article recently on why the North West division is the league’s worst. It got me thinking again about the Atlantic. It is comfortably the best in the league in my humble opinion. It’s full of depth, big market teams and is stacked with superstar, marquee names including the division worst Islanders if you respect John Tavares’ ability like I do. Given how tough the Atlantic is it really puts the Rangers’ last season performance in greater context.

Just to recap on the Anton Stralman contract; he recently signed a 2 year $3.4m contract. While I think he has a fair bit of room for improvement when you look at what other defensemen signed for this summer, its good value for a player that got better as the year progressed and who is still very young. Stralman could realistically be a 30 point player for the Rangers and if he hits that number then $1.7m/year is a bargain.

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Rangers re-sign Stralman

According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Rangers have re-signed RFA defenseman Anton Stralman to a 2-year deal, avoiding arbitration.  The deal totals 3.4 million, 1.6 and 1.8 million per season respectively.  More info to come as it becomes available.

Competing for the last spots on the blue line

The conversations this summer have mainly focused on the Rangers forwards. With three forwards departing, three (four if you include the AHL-bound Michael Haley) coming on board, and the never-ending discussions about Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin, and Shane Doan, it’s easy to see why the focus is on scoring and depth.

However some of the biggest concerns during the postseason were about the depth on defense. Stu Bickel was barely playing, and the five other defensemen were struggling to keep their legs under them while playing shorthanded throughout the playoffs. The Rangers need depth or growth. With Michael Sauer out, and no major signings pending, the answers appear to have to come from within.

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Anton Stralman files for arbitration

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.

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Rangers attempting to sign Stralman

Although it has been widely reported that Anton Stralman will return to Europe for family reasons, Larry Brooks is reporting that isn’t stopping the Rangers from attempting to keep Stralman on Broadway for a few more seasons:

It appears as if restricted free-agent defenseman Anton Stralman, whom the Rangers qualified at $945,000, is leaning toward remaining in the NHL rather than returning home to pursue a career in Sweden…It’s far more plausible the Rangers will attempt to negotiate a multi-year deal with Stralman…

Stralman, who is arbitration eligible, is a much needed right-handed defenseman who proved himself capable of playing top-four minutes last season and during the playoffs.

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Rangers send out qualifying offers

The RFA paperwork has been submitted. And after the smoke cleared, the Rangers made qualifying offers to Anton Stralman, Michael Del Zotto, and Mats Zuccarello. Stralman, MDZ, and Zuccarello were the only three RFAs at the NHL level.

NHL qualifying offer rules dictate that players earning under $660,000 in base salary be qualified at a 10% increase in base salary, players earning between $660,000 and $1 million (where all three Rangers RFAs fall) in base salary be qualified at a 5% increase, and players earning greater than $1 million be qualified at their original salary.

With that said, the final qualifying offers for the RFAs stands at the following (assuming my math is correct):

  • Stralman – $945,000
  • Del Zotto – $918,750 $826,875
  • Zuccarello – $945,000 $850,500

By qualifying these players, the Rangers guarantee themselves draft pick compensation if one signs an offer sheet with another club.

In regards to Zuccarello, yes he signed a deal with the KHL. But the deal has an out clause for the NHL should he receive what he wants. None of the remaining RFAs in the Rangers organization (all with Connecticut) were qualified.

Rangers final grades: Defense

Before we get to the report card for the Rangers blueline, let’s remember this: the Rangers enjoyed a spectacular season bested by only two teams in the entire league. A huge part of this success was because of the Rangers blueline. With that said, let’s look at the grades for the Rangers defensemen.

(p.s. if you missed it, here’s the Suit’s take on the top six scoring forwards this season – enjoy.)

Dan Girardi

For a significant part of the season Dan Girardi played like a Norris Trophy candidate. He was that good. Girardi enjoyed his finest season for the Rangers. With 29 points, a plus 13 rating, being an absolute work horse like few other in the entire league not to mention all the shot blocking, Dan Girardi literally does it all for the Rangers.

Aside from a very occasional stumble in the latter half of the season the only things that perhaps stop Girardi from being the perfect all round defenseman are his shooting percentage and lack of presence on the power play (1 goal). I really had to nitpick when trying to criticise Dan Girardi for this post. He is a richly deserved 2012 NHL All Star. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A+

Ryan McDonagh

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Should the Rangers try and keep Stralman?

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.

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Stralman elevating his game

The other day, Kevin Baumer asked a question about which Rangers have elevated their game for the playoffs. The obvious answers were Brian Boyle and Henrik Lundqvist, but another answer has been Anton Stralman.  Outside of Dan Girardi, who is playing as his usual self, Stralman has been the Rangers best defenseman this series. In this series against Ottawa, he is tied for the team lead in points (3) and second in goals (2). He has been a rock on defense, and has made out-of-this-world plays on defense to help preserve leads.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how well he has been playing is his ice time. Last night Stralman totaled 19:13 in ice time across 21 shifts, including 6:21 on the powerplay. Stralman has taken over the point on the powerplay, removing an ineffective Derek Stepan. Stralman’s play has been so good that he has rendered Stu Bickel relatively useless. Bickel received just 3:33 in ice time last night.

It’s not like Stralman is playing from experience either. This is his first trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and has only played 13 playoffs games total in his entire hockey career. Perhaps he is being helped by the quality of competition he is facing in the playoffs. Stralman’s Qualcomp of -.183 isn’t that strong, but it is considerably higher than Stu Bickel’s or Michael Del Zotto’s quality of competition faced. Naturally, he is nowhere near Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, or Marc Staal, but that’s expected.

Where Stralman is really beginning to excel is his puck possession metrics. At even strength, Stralman’s relative Corsi throughout the first round is 14.8, which is incredibly high. We are victims of small sample sizes here, especially when it comes to Corsi, but it is a drastic improvement over his regular season Corsi (0.4).

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Musings: Is there a captain that means more to his team than Ryan Callahan?

It’s been a while since I’ve written the musings here. This is generally Chris’ post, but he’s currently “indisposed.” So I’ve taken them over. Feel free to use your own interpretation of “indisposed” and make fun of Chris in the comments.

The Captain

How about that Ryan Callahan eh? He does everything for the Rangers. It is clear why he is the heart and soul of the team, and why he was named captain at the beginning of this season. There are very few captains in the NHL that mean as much to their team than Cally does to the Rangers. In fact, I can only think of a few: Jonathan Toews, Jarome Iginla, Dustin Brown, and Shane Doan.

Hot Richards

Brad Richards sure has been something of late. With last night’s goal, the alternate captain has 15 points in the month of March (6-9-15), a span of 12 games. He has the most points in the month of March than any other player, and is getting back on track to clear 60 points. When the Rangers signed Richards, expectations were that he would clear 60 points most seasons, and have a few seasons clearing 70 points. Considering the effect he’s had on Michael Del Zotto’s turn around, I’ll take 60 points and leadership/bettering others over 70 points any day.

Rough stretch for Del Zotto

Speaking of Del Zotto, he hasn’t looked the same since that hip injury. Maybe he’s just favoring it a bit, or maybe he’s just hitting a slump. But that lateral pass on the powerplay last night was last year’s version of Del Zotto, not this year’s version. The kid still has a lot of learning and growing to do, but mark my words, every mistake he makes he will learn from. Patience.

Sauer

The Rangers definitely miss Mike Sauer, but not as much as you might think. Tim Erixon and Stu Bickel have filled in very well for the injured defenseman, and while both have a lot to learn still, they are making the loss of Sauer easier to manage. Bickel and Sauer play extremely similar games, so it’s like he was never injured in the first place…except for that stint where Steve Eminger and Anton Stralman comprised the bottom pairing.

Stralman gets a bad rap

One quick note about Stralman: Boy he gets a bad rap here. The guy came in as an UFA signed in the beginning of the season, and had to work his tail off to even get into the lineup. When injuries started to mount, he played top four minutes and helped Del Zotto along in his development. Once players like Bickel started to emerge, and Stralman started to slump, he started getting blame for a lot of things. He filled in well, and was a great signing to help deal with injuries.

So long Fedotenko

Ruslan Fedotenko may be one of the more under appreciated signings Glen Sather has made in the past few years. Last year Feds was magnificent while playing on a line with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, forming one of the most formidable shut down checking lines in hockey. This year, the magic just wasn’t there. It wasn’t so much that he appeared to lose a step, it was that others played better, thus passed him on the depth chart. The emergence of Mats Zuccarello was the final nail in the coffin for Feds.

Quick questions:

  • Has Bickel’s emergence made Sauer expendable in the right deal?
  • Would you trade Sauer and Brandon Dubinsky for Bobby Ryan at the draft?
  • Which team scares you more in the playoffs: the Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, or Caps?
  • Over/under 60 points for Cally this year?
  • Over/under 30 goals for Richards?
  • Over/under 40 points for Del Zotto?