Musings of Interest: Anton Stralman

One of the "throw-in" guys in the Primeau swap, Stralman is actually a fairly interesting player - one who might make life interesting for any number of Calgary defenders on the big club's perimeter. The 23 year old already has 88 NHL games under his belt and has put up points in some good leagues this far in his career.

Stralman was a 7th round pick by the Maple Leafs back in 2005. The next year, he made the leap to the Swedish Elite League as a teenager, managing 9 points in 45 games. He stayed in Sweden for one more season, this time garnering more ice and better results:

Stralman played for Sweden in the 2005 and 2006 world junior championships before graduating to the Swedish Elite League and national team this season. He scored 10 goals and 11 assists in 53 games for Timra IK of the Swedish Elite League, earned a first team all-star berth, and was named one of the top three players for his country at the world championships last week in Moscow.

Those are some nice results for a youngster in high level surroundings.

From there, Stralman made the leap directly to the NHL, playing in 50 games and scoring 9 points. He was completely sheltered during his rookie season, averaging less than 13 minutes of ice per game, which isn't terribly unusal for really young, inexperienced defenders. It's notable that Stralman was prefered over the much older Staffan Kronwall who was also on the Leafs at the time - Kronwall appeared in just 18 games for Toronto that year.

This past season, the Leafs added Jeff Finger, Luke Schenn, Mike Van Ryn and 28 year old rookie Jonas Frogren. Stralman was pushed down the depth chart a bit as a result and only saw 38 games in the show. Nevertheless, his ES and PP ice time climbed a tad to 12:13 and 2:38 respectively. On the farm, Stralman tied for the highest scoring defenseman on the Marlies (with...Staffan Kronwall!) in terms of goals with 7, despite only playing in 36 games.

Stralman's advanced stats from last season are limited in their power given the small sample of games, but worth looking at anyways:

QofC: -0.05 (2nd easiest amongst defensemen)

QofT: 0.00 (middling)

corsi: +6.6 (best amongst defensemen, tied with Kaberle)

ESP/60: 0.94 (best)

GA/60: 2.69 (3rd best)

Some encouraging numbers for a 22 year old. His circumstances look similar to Frogren (who put up mostly inferior rates) at behindthenet, but the truth is the older and bigger player was deployed in less offense rich situations, including 19 more defensive zone than offensive zone draws. Stralman was the opposite - he got the Phaneuf/Giordano treatment with 49 more face-offs at the good end of the ice.  

The immediate future for Stralman is murky, at best. The word on Stralman is he has good offensive abilities and instincts, but is still something of a liability in his own end of the ice. He's probably a step ahead of guys like Palin and Pelech due to his 88 games of NHL experience, but he's clearly behind a guy like Mark Giordano who is older, more tested and put up better advanced stats at ES last season. Adam Pardy is probably also ahead of Stralman on the Flams depth chart, although the latter might be the superior prospect owing to their relative difference in age, past results, potential ceilings, etc. Their difference in styles and the fact that Stralman's abilities are already replicated on the roster by guys like Gio and Dion Phaneuf may also swing the coaching staff's preference in favor of Pardy.

Although he may be waiver eligible according to capgeek, Stralman is also behind the aforementioned Kronwall owing to Staffan's one-way NHL contract. That said, I can't see the team balking at sending Kronwall's 500k to the farm should Stralman prove to be the superior player. Either way, the organization risks losing one (or both) of these guys to the waiver wire should the club start shuttling them between the farm and parent teams this season. That will no doubt make for a competitive pre-season between the two as well as an intricate dance when the year gets going and the first injury comes down the pipe.

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