Anton Stralman, I bet Sather wants a do-over on that one!
The New York Rangers have given up 30 goals in 9 games this season and rank 22nd out of 30 teams in that category. Dan Boyle’s broken hand has had a negative impact for sure, which became compounded by the poor play of fill-ins Matt Hunwick and Michael Kostka.
To his credit, Matt Hunwick has improved with each game and is starting to contribute. Since his sub-par performance in a 6-3 home-opening night drubbing to Toronto, he’s registered 2 assists and an even rating in 5 games (4 of which are wins).
Now that John Moore has cost himself and the Rangers with a 5 game ban on an irresponsible hit, Mike Kostka returns to the lineup. In context, Kostka wouldn’t even be on the Rangers if not for Boyle’s hand injury. The last we saw Kostka he set up 2 Islanders for goals in a 6-3 loss.
Meanwhile down in Tampa Bay, Anton Stralman has registered another point as of the writing of this article (assist in the 1st period tonight vs. Philly). This gives Stralman 8 points in 10 games with a +9 for the Lightning. It makes you wonder if the Rangers would’ve been better off finding a way to keep Stralman.
Stralman has been a stabilizing force for the Lightning this season. He’s also sporting a 57.3 CF% according to Puckalytics.com (Corsi – shots plus all shots attempts that missed the net or blocked). “Anton Stralman is an outstanding defenseman,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told local reporters.
After a 7-2 pounding by the Minnesota Wild, Cooper heaped praise on Stralman. “He found a way to come out a plus-1, that’s pretty impressive, and he plays 20 minutes.” However, Cooper knew what he was getting. His assistant coach, Rick Bowness got a call from his old buddy, Alain Vigneault. “You’re going to love this guy,” Bowness recounted.
So why did it go south in NY? Why did Glen Sather turn away from one of his top 4 blue liners and a perfect defense partner for Marc Staal? Money? Rumor has it that before the deadline Anton turned down a 3 year – 3 million dollar deal. After the season, negotiations were minimal and Stralman’s camp never heard from the Rangers again, leaving him angry.
Eventually, Stralman would sign a 5 year deal with an AAV of 4.5 million in Tampa Bay. The lack of a State Income Tax means an equivalent deal in NY would need to be around 5 million plus. Money does seem like the likely culprit as Dan Boyle signed for the same money (AAV wise) but for only 2 seasons.
Still, what if the Rangers could’ve signed Boyle AND kept Stralman? It surely would’ve signaled the end of John Moore as a Ranger, but his current play and recent suspension may have already done that.
At this moment, there are a ton of Rangers’ fans and experts who probably feel that they would be better off with Stralman. Michael Kostka re-entering the line up may only further exacerbate that. Yet, the Rangers top 6 defense has played a total of 41 or so minutes together before Boyle broke his hand.
Would the Rangers really be better off with Stralman? Maybe, but we won’t know for certain until the top 6 are together. Still, if Glen Sather had a crystal ball and saw this coming he probably would’ve kept Stralman. I bet right now, he’d like that move back.