Updates from Tuesday, July 1
The New York Rangers earned a trip to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final due to some strong production from their defense. During the regular season, the Rangers allowed just 193 goals—the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference—and continued their stellar play on that end of the ice through the NHL playoffs.
One big reason for the team's success was the unheralded efforts of unrestricted free agent Anton Stralman.
With free agency officially beginning on Tuesday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports Stralman may be headed to the open market despite the Rangers' best attempts to keep him around:
That's unfortunate news for New York, as the team was hoping to keep most of its Stanley Cup-contending team together for at least another season.
To make matters worse, Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca suggests Stralman appeared to be one of the Rangers' top priorities:
It's not as if the Rangers haven't tried to keep the defenseman around.
Stralman is coming off a two-year deal worth a total of $3.4 million. According to a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers have offered him about $4 million per year for possibly three or four years.
Unfortunately for New York, it simply may not be enough due to Stralman's recent strong play. ESPN's Katie Strang tweeted her thoughts on the defenseman's potential journey to free agency:
More bad news for the Rangers: That may be as good of an offer as the team is capable of producing.
New York only has 11 players signed to contracts and will have just north of $23.3 million of cap room to work with this offseason. That just doesn't leave much wiggle room.
Dan Rosen of NHL.com shed some more light on Stralman's contract situation: "Stralman will command a big contract as a 27-year-old, right-shot defenseman. He has said he is comfortable in New York but is looking for stability for his family, including his four children. The Rangers may not be in position to compete for Stralman."
It appears as though this is all coming down to logistics. The Rangers would love to keep the defenseman around, but they simply may not have the resources to do so.
The 27-year-old played in 81 regular-season games last season and notched 13 points (one goal). He added five assists in the playoffs and sparked the team throughout its run.
As Lavoie stated in his tweet, we'll have to wait and see if things change within the next few days. However, as it looks right now, Stralman could be headed for a change of scenery.
Contract and salary-cap information courtesy of CapGeek.com.