When new Florida Panthers high profile acquisition Sergei Bobrovsky looks in front of him this coming season, he’ll be relieved to see one of their more under-the-radar signings playing in front of him. Anton Stralman, at three years for $16.5 million, will make the Panthers a better team at the back end. That’s a lot of money and cap space for a defensive guy whose best offensive days are long gone, but the Panthers need help on the blueline and the class of defensemen available is not particularly strong.
The biggest concerns when it comes to Stralman are age and durability. He was limited to just 47 games because of a lower-body injury and was unable to play in the Lightning’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’ll only be 33 when the 2019-20 season begins, but there are a lot of miles on his body and his offensive production continues to drop by the season.
The days of Stralman flirting with 10 goals and 40 points are long behind him, but he’s a responsible, low-maintenance veteran who will provide some stability to the Panthers’ defense corps. Stralman will almost certainly benefit from the change of scenery, since he occasionally was the odd man out even when he was healthy and he never really developed any chemistry with one partner.
One thing is clear. The Panthers can score goals and create offense with no problem. Their biggest issue is preventing the puck from going into the back of their own net and the acquisitions of both Bobrovsky and Stralman will help in that department. And this is an enormously good deal for Stralman, when you consider that he actually got a $1 million raise on his $4.5 million salary from last season. That will perplex a lot of people and it should. There is absolutely no way he was getting anywhere near that from the Lightning. In fact, he would have undoubtedly had to take a pay cut in order to stay in Tampa.
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