Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Anton Stralman, defenseman
Last team: New York Rangers
2013-14 cap hit: $1.7 million
A few years ago, it looked like Stralman's NHL career was over. The Columbus Blue Jackets let him walk after the 2010-11 season and the defenseman was unable to secure a contract that summer. He went on to accept an invitation to the New Jersey Devils' training camp, but failed to make the team's final roster. After returning to his home country of Sweden to contemplate his future, Stralman finally got the chance he was looking for when the New York Rangers gave him a contract on Nov. 3, 2011. Since then, he's proved to be a valuable member of the team's defensive corps.
Stralman has plenty of offensive and puck-moving skills. He can quarterback a power play and has a heavy, accurate shot from the point. He has decent size, but tends to shy away from physical play, which hinders his overall effectiveness. However, he can be relied on for big minutes as evidenced by his contributions during the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Stralman was a top-four defenseman with the Rangers for much of the past two seasons, and that's exactly what the Flyers are in need of for the coming season. But, as Tim notes below, he's not much of an upgrade over a number of D-men the Flyers already have locked up -- he's not going to deserve a top-pairing spot over anyone currently on the roster. He's a solid defenseman, and certainly had a strong year for the Rangers, but he's probably not worth the price he'll command this offseason. Thanks to the thin market, Stralman could be looking at a salary in the $4 million to $5 million range -- and he'll want a longer-term deal. The Flyers might sniff around Stralman, just in doing their due diligence, but I don't see them bringing him into the mix.
Stralman is not an All-Star caliber defenseman, but he has certainly elevated his game since catching on with the Rangers. He's not going to put up eye-popping numbers, even though he is a gifted puck mover. He just quietly goes about his business. Stralman was promoted to the Rangers' second defensive pair during the playoffs and thrived in his new role as shut-down defender. His strong play in the postseason came at a great time as the free-agent market for defensemen isn't particularly deep. A bidding war could be coming for Stralman. It would be wise for the Flyers to stay out of it. There's really no place for him on their blueline after re-signing Kimmo Timonen and I wouldn't consider him an upgrade over Andrew MacDonald, Braydon Coburn or Mark Streit. I don't see the Flyers taking a run at him.