Thursday, July 5, 2012

Anton Stralman Files For Arbitration

Some good news to pass along (at least to me it is): Anton Stralman officially filed for arbitration today, meaning that the 25-year-old defenseman who the Rangers signed last November likely plans on playing in the NHL next season. The Rangers submitted a qualifying offer of 105-percent of Stralman's salary from last season, which was $900,000, and the arbitration hearing will take place somewhere between July 20 and August 4, according to Andrew Gross. Gross speculates that Stralman and the Rangers will likely hash out a long-term deal before going to arbitration, perhaps settling on a two-year, $2.6 million deal or a three-year, $3.9 million deal. Not sure I would commit to Stralman for three years, but I've got no problem giving him a two-year contract at that price. Sign me up.

Stralman became a regular in the Rangers' lineup back in December after injuries to Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (separated shoulder) gave the Rangers a pressing need for a right-handed defenseman. After starting out slowly, Stralman really put together a very good season and became a very dependable defenseman down the stretch for the Rangers. It seemed like once he got in better shape and familiar with the Rangers' system he really excelled from that point forward and was able to play a steady game while also chipping in with some offense (2 G, 16 A in 53 regular season games and 3 G, 3 A in 20 playoff games). John Tortorella also showed a lot of trust in Stralman as the season went along, often times playing him between 15 to 25 minutes a game. On breakup day, Stralman indicated to the media that he would talk things over with his family on what he would do next season and seemed to be leaning towards going back home to play in Sweden at the time, but I guess he had a change of heart and wants back in.

I like Stralman and think bringing him back fills a big hole for the Rangers. Stralman is a solid and reliable right-handed defenseman who can do a nice job on the second pairing. The Rangers could look to add one more veteran defenseman at some point this offseason, but that really all depends on how comfortable they are with Stu Bickel and possibly Tim Erixon holding down the fort at that sixth d-man spot. John Tortorella, if you recall, said back on breakup day that the Rangers cannot count on Michael Sauer to return to the lineup this season, which is just another reason why bringing back Stralman was important, in my opinion.

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