Anton Stralman: Market value versus perceived value

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Yesterday Anton Stralman gave an interesting quote, stating he is “looking for security for his family,” basically stating he is looking for a contract. Many of us took that to believe that Stralman will price himself out of New York, as the Rangers may not have the cap space to sign their second pairing defenseman. But that also brought up an interesting question, one that no one has been able to agree on a consistent answer: What is Anton Stralman’s value?

Stralman is a #fancystats darling. He drives puck possession with the best of them, as his 56.5% Corsi puts him in the top-30 (#28) in the entire league. He was tops on the Rangers as well. His solid defensive play makes him a very good defenseman to have on your team. He is someone who quietly does his job, while also finding ways to tilt the ice in his team’s favor.

The problem is that Stralman doesn’t put up offensive numbers. In three seasons with the Rangers, he has just seven goals and 38 points. He doesn’t play on the powerplay, he’s not a fighter, he’s not a bruiser, he’s not a burner. He’s just very steady and very heady. He never panics with the puck, and he always makes the smart first pass. But the smart first pass doesn’t show up on the score sheet.

This is where we get into market value versus perceived value. In hockey, players are generally paid based on their production. Offensive defensemen get more money because they put up gaudy numbers. Offensive defensemen win the Norris because of these numbers. These defensemen aren’t always the guys that drive possession, or even play solid defense (Kris Letang, Eric Karlsson, etc). The lone exception here is Anton Volchenkov, who got a massive deal from New Jersey because he blocked a ton of shots (something that also works against Stralman). In short: Stralman’s market value is hurt because he doesn’t put up numbers.

Of course, Stralman’s perceived value is significantly higher. His ability to drive puck possession and shot attempts while on the ice is unmatched on the Rangers from the blue line. He’s a top-ten defenseman when it comes to tilting the ice for his team, ahead of guys like Chara, Shattenkirk, Timmonen, Pietrangelo, Karlsson, and Niskanen. His perceived value is right up there with these guys because of the fancy stats.

Therein lies the conundrum with Stralman: Perceived value doesn’t show up in a contract. Market value does.

Stralman is looking for a big pay day, and reportedly turned down a three-year, $9 million offer from the Rangers. I think he is looking at the Andrew MacDonald contract (six-years, $30 million) and thinking he might be able to fetch that as well. But A-Mac put up more offensive numbers than Stralman.

If Stralman is indeed looking for that monster pay-day, he’s not going to get it from Glen Sather. The Rangers don’t have much cap space to go over their $3 million offer, with many other key guys to re-sign as well. It’ll be interesting to see what Stralman gets in free agency, with such a stark contract between his market value and his perceived value.

Update: In a quick conversation with James Mirtle, a good point was brought up regarding Stralman’s market value. He’s one of very few top-four defensemen available this year. He’s also a right-handed shot. Supply and demand plays into his favor, driving up his market value. UFA markets fluctuate from year to year, and top-four defensemen that play 20 minutes a night will get paid. This appears to be a case where his perceived value will match his market value, a rare occurrence for a guy like Stralman.

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  • Interesting post. I agree there may be a disconnect between perceived and market value. However, I think he gets Andrew MacDonald money because:

    1) He had, as noted by most covering the games, an exceptional playoff run. Players get paid after solid post season performances (Gaborik just make some $$ after this postseason also).

    2) It’s a weak free agent market, and in those instances, all it takes is one (desperate) team to make that offer.

    3) Agents, generally, are really good at reading a market. His agent was quick to turn down the 3/$9M offer, assuming he knew Stralman can make more on the open market.

  • Strahlamn is a good, solid defensman, who should get no more than what was offered him!

    Currently, he gets $1.7 mil, and is offered $3 mil, an increase of some 80%, or so. That is plenty, and he is looking to make as much as McD, or more, show him the door!!

    Like you stated, he isn’t a fighter, burner, scorer, but a decent shut down guy. Hay, these guys are easy enough to come by, and for a heck of a lot less than the asking price. Sorry Anton, it was nice to have you here, enjoy your next outpost in the puckerbrush!!

  • I feel he will get 4 years and around $17M. There are a lot of teams out there that he would be their number 1 defender. Not sure the NYR can pay 3 defensemen over $3M each. At 3 years/$9M I would take him, but we already know that offer won’t work.

  • Dave, do you think if Sather had worked out a contract with Zuccs much earlier in the season, that it would change the scenario we are going to see this summer?

      • Dave,you are right and I should wait until we discuss Sather and Co. I was looking at a big picture effect and not just Stralman.

          • A mid season contract is a different number than a season ending contract. He is being touted as the next MSL (media hype, yes). but his star has risen over the last half of the season and because of that, it has to cause a ripple effect as to how money you have left to pay other people.

          • In the end Zucc is still an RFA so he doesn’t have a ton of leverage. The Rangers will give him a bridge contract, he will sign it. He may make some noises about a holdout but in the end Zucc will be a Ranger next season with a cap friendly contract.

          • Sather may extend him past a bridge year. He’s the only RFA I can see Sather extenting beyond a bridge contract. If the money’s right of course.

  • Something that slipped my mind until Mirtle reminded me: Few defensemen available that can play 20 mins, he might get paid because of that.

  • I think this team learned the back half of the season and throughout the playoffs how important it is to have 3 right-handed defenseman. We spent, what, 3 years trying to get to this point?

    I think Sather is a pretty shrewd GM and will opt to trade Staal and resign Stralman, in hopes of obtaining a #1 center.

  • From a replacement value standpoint, Klein’s acquisition makes losing Stralman tolerable. Not ideal, but tolerable. He can handle top 4 minutes on the right side.

    From a systems standpoint, Stralman is a better fit for an AV breakout system which requires puck poise and the ability to make the first pass up ice. Klein and Girardi tend to chip the puck up the boards more often, leading to 50/50 board battles, where numbers are required to win the puck back. AV likes to spread the ice, to keep the opposition honest. In such a case, Stralman is the guy you want. His puck poise is what makes his possession #s so strong.

    At the end of the day, we can live without him. We will be worse off without Stralman on the roster, but the cost to retain will determine if it is worth extending ourselves.

    Dave, considering Girardi’s extension in conjunction with how Girardi and Stralman each performed in the playoffs/finals….. did we sign the wrong guy?

    • Girardi isn’t a favorite in the stats community. He’s seen as an anchor for McDongh, and someone who doesn’t drive puck possession. That said, there are too many people focusing on his performance in the SCF (bad and unlucky is a terrible combination).

  • It’s important not to stand on principle here. Sometimes you have to overpay to fill a hole. With holes, you can’t win. With the market as it is, it seems inevitable that the Rangers will have to overpay to get a proper second pair RH Dman. Would you rather pay $3 million to get a $1.5 million guy or $5 million to get a $3 million guy?

  • Before the season, I thought $9m/3y was a fair value. As the season progressed, I upped it, and after the playoffs, I think $16m/4y is a fair value for Stralman. Based on that, I think someone will give him either 5y, $5m/y or both.

  • If Rangers keep Stralman, hope Staal is a goner and Conner Allen, John Moore, & recent college signee …….are options. Also, Maybe McIlrath is a goner, as well.

  • Left defenseman Mathew Bodie (165 lb tough guy?)

    All these posts that says Rangers need to get bigger, tougher, but Rangers best prospects are 175 lb LW Duclair, 5-9, 170 lb RW Bourque, 180 lb, 5-11 Kristo, 180 lb Jasper Fasth, 165 lb left defenseman Bodie.

    200 lb Conner Allen & 185 Lindberg are average size

    McIlrath & JT Miller are bigger guys, but may be in Vigneault’s doghouse.

    Something does not compute

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