Sports: Free-agent defenseman Anton Stralman presents an opportunity for teams in need of leadership, depth

Agent: There have been 'expressions of interest' in P.K. Subban

  Agent: There have been 'expressions of interest' in P.K. Subban Subban is coming off a 22-point campaign with the Devils in 77 games. Notably, his average playing time dipped under 20 minutes a night for the first time in his career. He averaged 18:18, which put him fifth among New Jersey’s blueliners. That was a drop of more than four minutes a game compared to 2020-21, hardly ideal for someone heading into free agency. A year ago, Subban had a case that he could still be a top-four defender, but it will be harder for his camp to make that argument now.

At the peak of his game, defenseman Anton Stralman was possibly the most underrated two-way defenseman in the league. In his late 20s, his first few seasons in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform were his best, receiving some Norris votes and flourishing in a top-four role on an emerging Tampa team looking to win. Since signing a well-paid free-agent deal with the Florida Panthers in 2019, though, his point production and his defensive play have declined severely.

Last season, Anton Stralman played in 74 games for the Arizona Coyotes. © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports Last season, Anton Stralman played in 74 games for the Arizona Coyotes.

Fresh off his 36th birthday at the beginning of the month, Stralman is still looking for an NHL contract next season. Spending the final season of that three-year contract signed with Florida with the Arizona Coyotes, Stralman did have his highest point total since 2015-16. It also came with an increase in ice time, though, which saw his defensive game decline even further from where it had in Florida.

Will Smith and Chris Rock's 2022 Oscars Incident: Everything to Know

  Will Smith and Chris Rock's 2022 Oscars Incident: Everything to Know Going off script. Chris Rock‘s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith during the 2022 Oscars didn’t land well with the actress or her husband, Will Smith. “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. Alright?” Rock joked during the awards show on Sunday, March 27, adding, “That was a nice one.” Jada, […]

Stralman still carries value in his leadership and experience, and given he’s 70 games away from 1,000 in the NHL, it’s a fair bet to assume he still has the drive to play in the league. On a contending team, though, he’s likely not more than a sixth or seventh defenseman at this stage. He does have the added value of being a right-shot defenseman, which some teams could surely use some added depth at. His play-driving ability, at least offensively, is still strong, but would likely need a sound two-way partner to have a lot of effectiveness.

Stats

2021-22: 74 GP, 8-15-23, -16 rating, 12 PIMs, 95 shots, 44.4 CF%, 21:20 ATOI

Career: 930 GP, 63-230-293, +49 rating, 285 PIMs, 1314 shots, 51.3 CF%, 20:00 ATOI

Potential suitors

One team looking to make the next step that needs some added security at right D is the Vancouver Canucks. A bottom-pairing role could be a good fit for Stralman here alongside a solid, young two-way partner in Travis Dermott. It’s a win-win, allowing Dermott to benefit from Stralman’s leadership, and Stralman’s play on its own is likely an upgrade over that of Kyle Burroughs or Tucker Poolman. The Canucks already have a lot of depth defensemen in the organization, though, and with Jack Rathbone fighting for NHL ice time, it might be too much for the organization to add to at this point.

A free agent profile of Sam Steel

  A free agent profile of Sam Steel While Steel has played exclusively in the NHL, he hasn’t come close to producing at the per-game levels of his first professional campaign. As a result, his playing time and role diminished over the last couple of seasons to the point where he was a healthy scratch a handful of times last season.Still, young centers are hard to come by and often get extra looks with the organization that drafted them. But Anaheim wasn’t worried about being able to afford his cap hit; they simply wanted to part ways with the 24-year-old.

The Edmonton Oilers are also a team without much defensive depth outside of their top six, which is fairly locked in at this point. With no great options to carry around as an extra on the NHL roster, Stralman could look to head to Alberta for a chance to win his first Stanley Cup.

With the Florida Panthers losing both MacKenzie Weegar and Ben Chiarot this summer, a return to the Sunshine State may also be a good fit for Stralman, who could join a depth contingent there that includes Marc Staal and Lucas Carlsson.

Projected contract

At this stage, unless he’s joining a team not expected to make a huge playoff bid, Stralman’s contract would likely be a one-year deal close to, if not exactly, the league minimum $750K. All of the above-mentioned suitors are teams right up against their salary-cap limits, and fitting Stralman in would be a tough ask if he’s not on the cheap.

Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸

Looking back at the embarrassment of riches in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft first round

  Looking back at the embarrassment of riches in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft first round Five players selected that night went on to appear in at least 1,000 NHL games, including Penguins icon Sydney Crosby.With the lack of regular-season standings to determine the draft order, the league implemented a snake draft system to make things more equitable for teams in later rounds that didn’t fare so well in the draft lottery. One team that did fare well that night, though, was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who cemented a 15-plus year run of success by drafting future captain Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick.

More must-reads:

  • Flames sign forward Jonathan Huberdeau to eight-year, $84M deal
  • Five NHL goalies who will be better in 2022-23
  • The '50 NBA playoff victories' quiz

Related slideshow: Every NHL team's likely next retired number (Provided by Yardbarker)

Philadelphia Flyers sign Tanner Laczynski .
The Philadelphia Flyers have reached an agreement with restricted free agent Tanner Laczynski, signing him to a two-year contract. The first year of the deal, (2022-23) will be a two-way contract, while the second will be one-way. It will carry an average annual value of $762.5K at the NHL level, meaning it is worth the league minimum in both years. © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Philadelphia Flyers has re-signed center Tanner Laczynski (58) to a two-year contract. Laczynski, 25, is an interesting candidate for a bottom-six role with the Flyers this season, after playing six games with them since turning pro.

See also