When the Rangers signed Anton Stralman in early November, it was pretty much an afterthought for most fans. After all, Stralman would need time to get into hockey shape, then more time to learn coach John Tortorella’s system. And who even knew if he was a Torts guy.
A month after his signing, Stralman had played just one game, and many were beginning to wonder if he would ever suit up for the Rangers. In fact, it took a Dion Phaneuf hit on Mike Sauer –and an awkward fall into the boards– to even convince Tortorella to dress the newly acquired defenseman on a regular basis. He was dressed as a necessity, not as a luxury.
Now, three months after the Sauer injury, Stralman has been seeing top four time on a consistent basis. His offensive numbers aren’t too impressive –on pace for about 20 points– but he has been a steady presence on the blue line and filled in admirably for the missing Sauer/Marc Staal at various times.
Looking at his advanced metrics, Stralman’s 4.7 GVT (2.1 OGVT/2.6 DGVT) is currently better than Staal (0.5 GVT in limited ice time), Steve Eminger (1.3 GVT), Jeff Woywitka (1.9 GVT), and Stu Bickel (2.6 GVT). When you prorate that out for a full season, Stralman has been worth roughly two points in the standings (one point currently, two points over 82 games) via the PVT metric.
Going deeper into his advanced metrics, Stralman hasn’t been seeing much time against top competition (-.058 Qualcomp), but his relative Corsi is still positive (0.5), meaning that his teammates have control of the puck more often than not while he is on the ice. That’s a small margin for his relative Corsi, but it’s positive nonetheless. He starts 52.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and finishes 50.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
It’s actually interesting, because Stralman’s metrics for quality of competition faced, Corsi (a puck possession metric) and offensive zone starts aren’t too strong. Generally speaking, when someone starts over 50% of their shifts in the offensive zone with low quality of competition, you would like to see a better relative Corsi.
Stralman has been a nice find for the Rangers, and he has given them a reason to appreciate his presence on the ice and his contract (one year, $900k). Stralman may not have a long term future on this team, but he has certainly been productive and a consistent body on defense. But looking at those metrics, maybe he has been benefiting from playing with Michael Del Zotto, and not the other way around, which most people have thought.
Stralman has been a Torts guy through and through this year, despite early doubts. Maybe that’s why he fits in so well with this club. Torts guys are tough to find, which makes this pickup fairly under appreciated.