Anton Stralman was a fantastic and up and coming defenseman for the New York Rangers, and while it was hard to see him depart to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the off-season, it was a necessary move for the Rangers to make.
Justin Vallarelli, Rangers Staff Writer
The Rangers essentially replaced Stralman with Dan Boyle, who has 1 year left on his 2 year, 9 million dollar contract. While Rangers fans soured on Dan Boyle, Boyle actually performed better in terms of offensive production in the regular season and postseason, as Boyle had 10 points in 19 post season games, and 20 points in 65 regular season games. Stralman played more postseason games (26) and had nine postseason points.
Stralman is 28 years old while Dan Boyle is 39 years old, and both players play for offensive minded teams. Stralman is signed for 5 years and $22.5 million dollars, which would have crippled the Rangers, who are always low on salary cap money due to constant trades and signings. While fans wanted Stralman back, and saw how he performed in Tampa Bay, this move is better for the Rangers. Boyle has one or two years left and he can still provide an offensive spark that the Rangers need, and he can play good but not great defense.
Stralman has more good years left, but he is on Tampa Bay to pair with Victor Hedman to make a shut down defensive pair. The Rangers have Ryan Mcdonaugh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle, Kevin Klien, Raphael Diaz, Chris Summers, and Brady Skjei waiting in the AHL. While Stralman is a good player, the Rangers could not afford that contract, especially with younger players waiting to be developed. Dan Boyle is a solid short term defenseman who can help a win now Rangers team make another run at the Stanley Cup, and the Rangers have the prospects and the depth to replace Boyle in the next few seasons.
Justinn Heimbuch, Rangers Editor
When the New York Rangers let Anton Stralman walk and explore free agency before the start of 2014 season, it left many fans scratching their heads as too why. The clear reason being the organization and Stralman could not reach an agreement on contract terms. Yet, it seems as if General Manager Glen Sather did not even try to negotiate anymore after Stralman turned down his initial offer reportedly worth $9 million for three years.
It was very unfortunate that the Rangers could not continue to retain the services. He had been apart of the organization since the 2011-2012 season when he signed a one year contract with the Blueshirts. Since his inauguration with New York, Stralman had quietly turned into their most underrated blue liner. While he may not be that young (currently 28 years old), he certainly did save his career during his time in New York.
He quickly became a top-four defenseman and become one of the Rangers’ most reliable players. Before the 2013-2014 season, he went mainly unnoticed by many teams and coaches. He plays a smart game and helped the Blueshirts solidify their blueline all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. He has everything a coach can want in a defenseman. He is competent with the puck, is an exceptional skater, loves to take the body, makes the smart simple plays, and can even add a little offensive touch.
Stralman was a solid player during his time on Broadway. He may not have put up great offensive numbers but his play in the backend was second to none. Sather allowed Tampa Bay to sign him during his prime years. The way Sather handled the situation by keeping mum and not willing to negotiate definitely hurt New York’s chances to keep a player of his caliber. It is a shame that they let him walk.