The Oilers are still woefully thin on the back end. Mark Fraser wasn't the right man for the job according to the fan poll, but the Oilers remain in dire need of help on the blueline and there are no candidates from within the franchise who are able to fill the opening. They may have found their man in New Jersey.
Rich Chere from the Star-Ledger reported that Anton Stralman has been left off of the 23-man roster in New Jersey. Stralman was invited to Devils' training camp on a try-out basis, but he was not signed. However, he may stay close to the organization for the next few days to see what shakes out. Devils' General Manager Lou Lamoriello the two sides were still talking, but nothing further.
Lamoriello's decision not to sign Stralman may turn out to a blessing in disguise for the young defender, if the Oilers choose to pursue and sign him. The Oilers can provide him more ice time than any other team in the league and give him a chance to find a contract next season. In turn, Stralman might plug the hole in Edmonton's depth chart, and give the forwards a chance to get the puck out of the zone and occasionally hit them in stride with a lead pass.
|GP||G||A||P||TOI/G||QC Rk||AdjCorsi||AdjCorsi Rk||ZS Rk
|Blue Jackets - 2009-10||73||6||28
|Blue Jackets - 2010-11||51||1||17
Stralman's numbers over the last two seasons tell a story of a guy getting sheltered zone starts and sheltered minutes and performing slightly above break-even by the possession metrics. He was absolutely killed by PDO, however, and it shows in his traditional +/-. He was a -17 in 2009-10 and a -11 in 2010-11. In 2009, his on-ice shooting percentage was 6.55, his on-ice save percentage .903. The Jackets posted a .909 even strength save percentage, below league avearge. In 2010, his on-ice shooting percentage was 6.04, and his on-ice save percentage .907. The Jackets' .910 even strength save percentage was again below league average. Give Stralman the league average in both categories and he's a +3 in each of his last two seasons.
Essentially, Stralman has received the same treatment as Cam Barker, yet he's posted far better results. Why, then, is he available?
Prior to the draft, Matt Wagner from The Cannon reviewed the Blue Jackets' roster in detail and thought it best to turn Stralman loose:
Many thought he would be a key contributor under Scott Arniel with the man advantage, perhaps even improving from his 34 point season. Instead, he spent part of the year injured and much of it in the press box after making miscue after miscue, frequently negating the very power plays he was supposed to be aiding. Named the team's midseason goat by Puck Daddy, and the general sense by the end of the year was don't let the door hit you on the way out..
The Oilers can't be choosy at this point. Stralman has delivered underrated possession numbers with sheltered minutes. That's more than all but two of Edmonton's healthy defensemen can say. He's a right-handed shot and has a reputation as a puck-mover and excellent passer and can help on the power play. He's a perfect fit for a team set to start Andy Sutton on their top pairing and Cam Barker in the top four.
Stralman's 2010-2011 salary and cap hit was $1,950,000, but without a qualifying offer or a contract offer from the Devils, Stralman would accept a deal for much less and likely sign a one-year contract. A one-year deal wouldn't get in the way of the six-year plan, and Stralman would simply be a stopgap while the Oilers find long-term solutions. The Oilers were happy to try the Barker reclamation project for more than $2 million, there's no reason not to try a better defenseman for less than half of that.