There's no harm in adding depth (re: competition) to the roster, especially when a team is missing its best defenseman. On Thursday evening, blueliner Anton Stralman agreed to a one-year, $900,000 deal with the New York Rangers, further clarifying the doubts the organization has in Marc Staal returning any time soon. The news was originally tweeted by TSN's Bob McKenzie. Stralman's agent, Marc Levine, also confirmed the deal to ESPN NY's Katie Strang, though the team has not made an official announcement yet.
"I know we're talking to him," John Tortorella said after Thursday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks as quoted by NY Daily News' Pat Leonard. "I'm not sure what's happened there. I know there's been some conversation with [Rangers GM] Glen [Sather], but I don't know if anything's been finalized."
The Record's Tom Gulitti reported Oct. 24 that the Rangers had made the offer. Regardless of whether the Rangers were the only real suitors, the 25-year-old Swede probably realizes New York presents a legitimate chance for NHL ice time. And if he impresses enough, maybe the former Toronto Maple Leaf and Columbus Blue Jacket earns himself another contract and stability within the league next season.
By no means is Stralman a world saver. There's obviously a reason why he was not on a team this year, despite being with the New Jersey Devils during training camp. But the Rangers had just six defensemen on their roster, after sending 20-year-old rookie Tim Erixon down to the American Hockey League for more seasoning.
There's a benefit to having an extra defenseman (and forward) on the roster with some NHL experience. Coach John Tortorella is notorious for continuously shuffling the sixth defenseman in and out of the lineup based on their play, when he has that ability. Competition, even for a guy that will play 10 minutes a game, is still a good thing. Jeff Woywitka, who had his first goal as a Ranger on Thursday, and Steve Eminger will be the guys most likely affected by this signing. Plus, if a defenseman has some bumps and bruises and a night off would serve them well, Tortorella now has the ability to sit him.
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Stralman, a right-handed shot, has 11 goals and 63 assists in his career, and had one goal and 17 assists with Columbus last season.
Before Thursday's game, Tortorella had no update on Staal's status, according to a report on NHL.com.