Great Performance By Diaz Spells Doom For Stralman

Diaz looked smooth in his NYR debut (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Diaz looked smooth in his NYR debut (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Last night, Raphael Diaz’ performance put Anton Stralman on notice. With John Moore out due to a concussion suffered against Columbus on Friday, Diaz has a great opportunity to show he belongs.

If you were just a “stat” guy and saw the box score, you’d think me silly for writing this article. He was a plus 1 with only 1 shot on goal. However, Raphael Diaz looked so smooth in his 12:14 of ice time you could tell why Sather went after him last year.

That is correct, at one point Glen Sather was mulling a swap of Michael Del Zotto for the right handed defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens. Not making the move proved to be the right one, as Del Zotto was used to acquire stay-at-home blue liner Kevin Klein. Diaz was a deadline steal for NY this year, since it only cost a low draft pick. It’s a move that could prove invaluable going forward.

Back to the performance. The moment Alain Vigneault called on Diaz to take a shift on the power play was the moment Stralman’s ticket may have been punched out of town. The slick passer with the heavy shot logged 4:06 on the PP point. The defenseman from Switzerland was so impressive that season long PP QB, Brad Richards, only logged 1:54 on the man advantage.

Surely, AV realizes that Richards is liability as a forward on the point with slow legs. So it isn’t surprising that Diaz overtook him so quickly. Raphael Diaz can QB a power play as his earlier scouting report suggests. In limited action with Montreal he scored 4 goals and 29 assists in 129 games being bounced in and out of the lineup for two and a half seasons. This year in 53 games he has 1 goal and 11 assists, playing for 3 NHL teams (MTL, VAN, NYR).

What’s the knock on him? He isn’t physical enough and that may play in his favor under AV. The coach’s system covets puck moving and speed over brute force. So expect to see a healthy dose of Raphael Diaz on the PP point as John Moore recovers.

As for Stralman? The day he turned down Glen Sather’s 9 million dollar offer over 3 years was the start of his doom. The possible emergence of Raphael Diaz may very well seal it. Both are UFA’s at the end of this season, but Diaz at 1.2 million a year may be more reasonable and realistic in his contract demands, all but packing Stralman’s bags out of town. When John Moore comes back and if Stralman gets scratched in favor of Diaz, you will know all this to be true.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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