Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/5/11

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Anton Stralman #5 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates up to a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on October 10, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blue Jackets defeated the Coyotes 2-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Alexander Monaghan
President

By Resolute (Own work)

The New York Rangers certainly bolstered their blue line today, agreeing to terms with unrestricted free agent Anton Stralman. After not receiving a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stralman hit the market as a UFA. He then failed to sign with the New Jersey Devils following their preseason, returning home to Sweden while he mulled over options. Although talks remained open between the two sides, Stralman ultimately decided on the Rangers due to their need on the blue line.

Injuries to Marc Staal and previously Michael Sauer severely hurt the team’s depth, forcing them to claim Jeff Woywitka and dress minor leaguer Brendan Bell; their next option was Stu Bickell. Due to their relatively inexperienced blue line, coach John Tortorella ultimately decided to play Wotwitka in favor of rookie Tim Erixon, leaving their NHL-capable depth somewhat barren. This signing helps the team rotate defensemen as Steve Eminger, Woywitka and Stralman figure to play on the third defensive pairing.

In addition, Stralman could help the team offensively as he has shown promise on the power play with the Blue Jackets. The Rangers have displayed a better power play than in year’s past but continue to mix around their point men. With Michael Del Zotto and Brad Richards mostly playing on the top unit, look for Stralman to spell second power play unit with either Dan Girardi, Sauer or Ryan McDonagh.

Most importantly, he’s Swedish — so we like him. Considering the team had no other Swedish players following the demotion of Erixon, it should be nice for Henrik Lundqvist to scream in his native tongue every once in a while. See below the team’s official press release.

New York, November 5, 2011 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Anton Stralman.

Stralman, 25, has skated in 212 career NHL contests over four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, registering 11 goals and 63 assists for 74 points, along with 97 penalty minutes.  He enjoyed his most productive season in 2009-10 with Columbus, establishing career-highs in games played (73), goals (six), assists (28), points (34), power play goals (four), power play assists (18), power play points (22), shots on goal (121) and penalty minutes (37).  He led all Columbus defensemen in points, assists, power play goals, power play assists and power play points, and tied for second among team defensemen in goals that season.  He also led the team in power play assists, tied for second in power play points and fifth in power play goals.  Stralman posted a career-high, four-game point streak from January 16, 2010 vs. Chicago to January 21, 2010 at Boston, tallying five assists over the span.  He also registered a career-high, six multi-point performances.

Last season, Stralman registered one goal and 17 assists for 18 points, along with 22 penalty minutes in 51 games with Columbus.  He tallied a career-high, three points (three assists) on April 1 vs. Chicago.  The 5-11, 193-pounder made his NHL debut on October 23, 2007 vs. Atlanta, and recorded three goals and six assists in 50 games as a rookie with Toronto in 2007-08.  Stralman registered his first career NHL point with an assist on January 10, 2008 at Los Angeles, and notched his first career NHL goal on March 21, 2008 at Buffalo.

The Tibro, Sweden native was originally selected as Toronto’s seventh round choice, 216th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.


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