With July 1st right around the corner, could the Florida Panthers possibly have interest in pending unrestricted free agent Anton Stralman?
The native of Sweden was formerly a seventh-round selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Stralman would spend two seasons with the Leafs before being dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Despite some temporary success with CBJ, the Swede would find himself on yet another squad two years later. Essentially, Anton Stralman spent the following three seasons as a top-four defenseman on the contending New York Rangers.
However, Stralman would finally find a home with the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014. In essence, Stralman developed into one of Tampa’s best overall defensemen on their roster for numerous years.
During the 2014-15 season with the TBL, Stralman produced a remarkable slash line of 9G, 30A, for 39 points as well as a +22 rating. Stralman was an important part of Tampa’s blue line, providing much-needed stability for five consecutive seasons.
In Stralman’s five-year career (355 games played) with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Swedish native recorded a line of 29G, 101A, for 130 points. In addition, Stralman accumulated a whopping +80 rating, while averaging nearly 22 minutes of ice time on a nightly basis.
What makes Stralman such a tremendous defenseman is the fact that he rarely turns over the puck to the opposition. In Stralman’s incredible twelve-year NHL career, the underrated Swede has only recorded a total of 301 giveaways, translating to an average of only 25 giveaways per season.
Evidently, the 32-year-old defenseman would certainly improve the defense core of the Florida Panthers in a tremendous manner. Not only would Stralman be a relatively inexpensive option in free agency, but he would immediately provide the Cats with stability on their struggling blue line.
Anton can take the pressure off of his defense partner, thus allowing an offensive defenseman like Aaron Ekblad an opportunity to attack more often.
An ideal contract for Stralman would be in the neighborhood of two or three years with an annual average between $4-5 million.
Considering the Cats will have well over $20+ million in cap space, General Manager Dale Tallon should address the defense by signing a top-four caliber defenseman like Anton Stralman.
However, even though Stralman is a marvelous two-way defenseman, the main issue of concern with Anton is his health.
During the 2019 season, Stralman missed a combined 35 regular-season contests for the Lightning. In addition, Stralman also missed the entire first round of the playoffs versus the Blue Jackets, as well.
If Stralman is medically cleared and fully recovered, then the Florida Panthers must absolutely pursue the veteran during the free agency period. Anton Stralman would provide Joel Quenneville with playoff experience and a proven track record, too.
In 104 NHL playoff games, Stralman has mustered a tally of 6G, 20A, for 26 points as well as a +2 rating. The dependable d-man also has over 700 regular-season games of experience (749), so he could serve as a mentor for young defensemen such as MacKenzie Weegar, Aaron Ekblad, and Mike Matheson.
Ultimately, Anton Stralman would be an ideal fit on the Florida Panthers, providing a stabilizing force on the blue line for the next several seasons under Quenneville’s command.
With the Cats clearly in win-now mode, a proven veteran defenseman like Anton Stralman could find himself staying within the division, this time as a member of the Florida Panthers.