Pat Leonard from The New York Daily reported today that Rangers UFA defenseman Anton Stralman and his family is looking for “stability”. He goes on to mention that Stralman would like to stay in New York but is open to see what happens.
With New York having less 18M to sign 7 players and Stralman most likely looking for at least 4M on a max contract other teams may be in better position to sign him.
The question for us is would Anton Stralman be a fit for the Habs and if so should Marc Bergevin give in to the 27 year old Stralman’s wish for stability and sign him to a 6-7 year contract?
I am sure everyone heard about the way Stralman quietly was one of the most productive defenseman for the Rangers this past season. Stralman was a possession machine with a team-lead 56.5 CF% and did so with a very respectable 28.7% QoC (playing second line players mostly).
The most remarkable part about Stralman is how much he makes his defense partner better than what they would be without him.
***This picture was taken from Bill Goldthorpe on savebyrichter.com***
This chart is showing a CF% with or without Stralman. The most note able name to me is Marc Staal who played just about the same number of minutes as Stralman — with the same QoC — but falls off significantly in possession without him. Staal is a 46.8% possession player without Stralman which would be only greater than Habs Josh Gorges this season. Instead, with Stralman, Staal’s 54.6% would be even greater than Habs leading possession Dman this season PK Subban by 4.7%.
Stralman would bring much needed experience and stability to the back-end for Montreal. He would also, following his career script, bring the Habs more possession and ultimately more scoring chances.
The biggest fit for Stralman on Montreal would be that he is right-handed. The Habs currently have only Greg Pateryn as a right-handed D under contract for next season.
The current D looks like this (With Subban and Markov resigned):
The imbalance of this D corpse is almost laughable. There is one player who can clear the puck on his strong side on the right boards and that is PK Subban. Assuming Habs sign Subban to an 8 year extension and re-up Mike Weaver for one more year, the Habs D corpse would be much more balanced with Stralman next season.
So with Stralman the team would be much more balanced and become more possession-friendly ultimately leading to more scoring chances. Now we have to look at contract.
Stralman has never made more than 1.95M back in 2010-11. At 27 he is now a proven 2nd pairing D who deserves that money. If Montreal offers him 4-4.5M for 6-7 years Stralman would receive the stability and a fair contract while the tax problem in Montreal that scares some players away would surely be no issue as Stralman would still be making more than career average.
Now there is a cap issue. Earlier today we find out that Markov wants a 3yr 6M per contract. If that is true the D would cost about 28M with Stralman at 4, Subban at 8, Markov at 6, Weaver at 1.5 and either Tinordi or Beaulieu would spend another year limiting their growth in Hamilton. That is a lot of money to spend on a D corpse. To me there is two options:
Emelin(4.1) OR Gorges(3.9)-Weaver(1.5)
This option would trade one of Emelin or Gorges and have Tinordi and Beaulieu with the team. It would cost them about 25M which is still a bit much but the 3 extra M can sign a bottom six forward.
Emelin(4.1) OR Tinordi(870k)-Weaver(1.5)
This option would be to not resign Markov. It would leave the team with the same L-R balance and only cost about 22M. This option would also allow Tinordi and Beaulieu to grow at a faster rate and join the teams core much sooner. Tinordi’s growth can also give option for Emelin or Gorges to be traded at deadline and shed even more off the D cost allowing much more money for needed top 6 FWD.
I believe the best option would be the first only if Markov is willing to sign for 4.1M or less. If Markov is unwilling to accept less that 5M passed next year than I believe he should walk and go with option number 2. Stralman on a 6-7 year deal is a cheaper option that will help the teams possession that will leave him younger than Markov is now by the end of his contract. This will also give Beaulieu and Tinordi the right development with the appropriate minutes to join the teams core earlier ultimately leading to the cup sooner.
Anton Stralman would be a perfect fit for the Montreal Canadiens and Marc Bergevin should be willing to pay up and give him the term that he deserves in order to help this team succeed now and later.
Plus could you imagine a secondary unit of Beaulieu-Stralman and imagine how much offensive opportunity that will create for the Habs forwards? I just cried a little.