Should He Stay or Should He Go? Anton Stralman

One season as a hero, one season as a goat. Can Columbus take that 50/50 chance again? (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Name:  Anton Stralman

Position:  Defenseman
Status:  Restricted Free Agent
2010-2011 Salary/Cap Hit:  $1,950,000 / $1,950,000


Last Three Years' Stats:

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

51

1

17

18

-11

22

73

6

28

34

-17

37

38

1

12

13

-2

20

 

When he was originally acquired by Scott Howson from Calgary for a third round pick in 2009, Anton Stralman looked like the missing piece of the puzzle for the Jackets' back end. Contributing a power play goal in his first game, Stralman's point production from the blue line made up for the grumbles over his sometimes frustrating defense, and after Howson was able to get him back under contract without having to go through Salary Arbitration and a big raise from his entry level $750,000 deal, much was expected. Many thought he would be a key contributor under Scott Arniel with the man advantage, perhaps even improving from his 34 point season. Instead, he spent part of the year injured and much of it in the press box after making miscue after miscue, frequently negating the very power plays he was supposed to be aiding. Named the team's midseason goat by Puck Daddy, and the general sense by the end of the year was don't let the door hit you on the way out...

What's He Worth?

If Stralman had put up another 30+ point season, his 1.95 million salary would have been a relative bargain. His price tag puts him in a similar ballpark to fellow RFAs Karl Alzner, Matt Gilroy, or Shane O'Brien, but each of these defensemen offers...well...actual defense. Adrian Aucoin comes in at a slightly higher cap hit, but he's also put up much more reliable offensive numbers throughout his career, and again, a much more defensively reliable player. It seems almost certain that Stralman will take a pay cut if he stays at the NHL level - I just cannot see an GM offering him more than his current salary with only one solid season of NHL production on his resume.

What Should The CBJ Offer?

A warm handshake and hearty wishes for good luck on July 1st. Scott Howson has already said that the team's defense must improve - that it is his top priority for this offseason. Stralman's locker has already been cleaned out and the team will happily accept a new occupant, whether he comes through trades or free agency. The experiment, for lack of a better word, with Stralman was unsuccessful. Perhaps in a few more years he'll have the seasoning to balance defensive responsibility with offensive production, but the Blue Jackets don't have time to wait.

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