Monday, August 12, 2019

Anton Stralman Autographed Card

One of the more puzzling moves this summer was the Florida Panthers signing defenseman Anton Stralman - to a three-year deal averaging $5.5M per, no less - when there were clear signs he has been regressing.

After all, the 33-yar-old missed 35 games in 2018-19 due to injury, and you would need to add his points total of the past two years (6 goals, 29 assists, 35 points in 127 games) to equate his final prime season (9 goals 25 assists and 34 points in 73 games in 2015-16). His possession metrics were also under 50% for only the second time in his twelve-year career, despite playing on one of the best teams of all time, the record-breaking Tampa Bay Lightning (63 regular-season wins). His plus/minus was also fifth on the team at +12, way behind his replacement, 21-year-old Erik Cernak (+25), and even farther from team leader Ryan McDonagh (+38).

A better contract would have had him at $4M a year for no more than two years, which would have better represented what he can do and how long he can do it for on the cap, allowing GM Dale Tallon more flexibility in tweaking the roster if needed, managing fan expectations, and making new head coach Joel Quenneville's job easier, too, by not having reporters raise uncomfortable questions when he's parked on the third pairing or even in the stands.

There is no way that current-day Stralman can aspire to dethrone any of the Panthers' top three defensemen (Mike Matheson, Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle) in total ice time, although turnover machine Yandle could benefit from seeing his five-on-five minutes diminish; then again, Yandle is the only one in that group who is a lefty. Matheson, Ekblad and Stralman all shoot right-handed. Ruh-roh.

There is also the "force of habit" factor... 2019-20 will be the first time Stralman will be playing in red. Whether it's for Team Sweden, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers or the Bolts, he's always just worn blue.

Speaking of which, he's a card from his days in Manhattan, wearing the Rangers' white (now-away) uniform on card #291 from Upper Deck's 2014-15 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in blue sharpie during the 2015 playoffs when the Bolts defeated the Montréal Canadiens.

All that being said, regardless of his cap hit and how troublesome it will be in Year Three, he is probably an upgrade over what they had on the third pairing. Sergei Bobrovsky is a definite upgrade over an aging, injured and now retired Roberto Luongo. Quenneville is one of the three best coaches in the NHL - another upgrade. The Cats already boasted a solid attack and core. After missing the postseason in six of the last eight seasons (with both playoff berths being division-winning teams), they are a good bet to enter the Spring Dance in April.

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