While the Tyler Myers contract plays itself out over the next two seasons and Tucker Poolman’s future with the Vancouver Canucks remains to be seen, free agent right-shot D-man Anton Stralman presents a viable short-term option.
Yes, the team wants the core to get younger, but the man who turns 36-years-of-age on Monday wouldn’t really be part of the ‘core’. The Swede who’s played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes over his 15-year career would be a strong veteran presence and a placeholder while longer term plans began to take hold. In the meantime, let’s say for two seasons max’, he could help the club reach the playoffs, never a bad thing for a cavalcade of reasons.
Things like revenue, postseason experience, and of course, ‘you just never know what can happen’ if you get in, particularly with Thatcher Demko in net. Just ask goalie Jonathan Quick and the 8th-seeded 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, who defeated the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in the first round that spring.
The Canucks could build off of any form of 2023 postseason benchmark with different, younger personnel moving ahead.
At this point Stralman shouldn’t be an expensive proposition. Is he manic enough to keep playing like Zdeno Chara, well into his 40’s for contracts worth little more than a million bucks a year? Who cares, it doesn’t matter.
The Canucks would try to make the most of Stralman for the relative short term. He’s coming off a three-year deal that paid him $5.25-million per season. That’s not happening again. Could they get a deal done for a couple million bucks per season. Up to 3-million? It would mean moving on a forward contract, oh, let’s say Tanner Pearson and his $3.25-million (modified no-trade clause – 7 team no-trade list). There are plenty of exciting options with upside on the wings right now for the Canucks.
Vancouver could use Stralman’s abysmal analytics numbers as leverage during negotiations. His shot possession and team expected goals were horrid during his one season in the desert, but then again, he was playing in the NHL’s version of purgatory with a handful of teammates who often played like they really didn’t give a 💩. He was actually above his expected offensive output as an individual.
He still munched minutes, delivered 99 hits and blocked 100 shots, many of those on the penalty kill.
Older guy, third pair, reduced minutes, puck mover, penalty killer, $3-million or less? Viable, especially culture-wise around a Canucks rink that’s turned into Stockholm-West. Even if a JT Miller trade unfolds and more money frees up for younger acquisitions, the two concepts could work in harmony. Acquire a top pair guy, keep Stralman on the third pair, Myers sandwiched between for potentially two more seasons, not a bad set-up while others develop.