When the New York Rangers signed defenseman Anton Stralman to a one-year deal, they knew they weren’t getting Shea Weber to rescue their defense. They were getting another right-handed, depth defenseman who has put up 39 career power play points in 4 professional seasons. However, Stralman is also -40 in his 4 seasons as well, which would make any coach cringe.
Let’s call a spade a spade: Stralman isn’t here for his strong defensive acumen. He’s not going to make you think of Marc Staal, only in the sense you hope he’s back really soon. For evaluation purposes, he projects to a slightly more-rounded Matt Gilroy. But, for a team struggling to gain any offensive consistency with the man advantage, Stralman’s success on the power play could be beneficial.
Join me after the jump for more.
Stralman’s best statistical year came two seasons ago with the Columbus Blue Jackets, putting up 6 goals, 28 assists in 73 games. Of those 34 points, 22 of them (roughly 65%) were on the power play playing with Rick Nash, Derrick Brassard, and R.J. Umberger to name a few. Next season, however, Stralman’s production dipped to just 18 points (1 goal, 17 assists) in 51 games, limited mostly by a knee injury. The Blue Jackets declined to tender him a qualifying offer, making him a UFA. Stralman was last seen with the New Jersey Devils on a try-out basis but never signed.
Going by scouting reports, Stralman brings with him a good shot, solid hockey sense, and smart passing, all of which sound enticing to a Rangers power play in desperate need of creativity. Still just 25-years-old, Stralman still has time to be a productive player.
Most of the problems on the power play are heavily rooted in the players’ inability to not only generating puck movement, but also getting shots on net. If the opposition knows this, it makes defending a power play that much easier; block the passing lanes and you’ll have success. Too many times this season a Rangers power play has gone by the wayside looking for the perfect pass or deflection rather than being simple and putting pucks on net.
The team desperately needs a player who can rip shots from the point, it’s an underrated key to power play success. If Stralman can find ways to do so – while having a body in front screening (talking to you Brian Boyle, or Ryan Callahan) – then maybe there will be positive change. Until that happens, not even Brian Leetch could fix the woes with the man advantage currently plaguing the Rangers.