Though Michael Sauer is likely to be ready for the home opener against Toronto on Thursday, we’ve still heard nothing about Marc Staal, which is not encouraging. Luckily, the defense as a whole has picked up their play to help account for that loss, but it’s pretty obvious that they lack a reliable sixth defenseman. Devils beat writer Tom Gulitti claims to have heard from a reliable source that the Rangers have offered a contract to former Maple Leafs defenseman Anton Stralman. Stralman had joined the Devils on a tryout basis during training camp but never received an offer.
Jeff Woywitka and Brendan Bell have simply not looked like NHL caliber defenseman in the opportunities given to them so far this season, and with young defenseman like McDonagh, Del Zotto, and Erixon trying to figure things out we do not have room for erratic play from anyone else on the blue-line. Yes, if Sauer is ready to go then that issue is solved, but only temporarily. NHL defensemen get hurt frequently so we’re inevitably going to need to call on another defenseman at some point. Or, the coaching staff could decide that Erixon would be better off playing in Connecticut for some time, leaving a hole on defense. The 25 year old Stralman did not develop into as good of a defenseman as the Maple Leafs thought he could, but he is still an upgrade over Woywitka and Bell. Stralman is also an offensive defenseman who had 10 power play points last season with the Blue Jackets as well as 22 power play points the season before that. Perhaps he’d be an option at the point, meaning that Girardi could play less minutes.
The Rangers refused to confirm or deny the offer, which in essence does confirm that Stralman’s been offered a contract. He’s reportedly weighing the Rangers’ offer as well as a contract from a team in the Swedish Elite League. I’d expect to hear if he is in fact being signed no later than the weekend.