In this week’s edition of the Arizona Coyotes‘ 2021-22 offseason player reviews, we’ll look at our first defenseman of the series, Anton Strålman. After manning the blue line for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers during his career, the veteran defenseman found himself in a trade to the Coyotes, along with defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok.
With eight goals and 15 assists in 74 games this season, along with providing a veteran presence in the locker room, Strålman proved he can still be a solid defenseman and leader on any team. With free agency approaching and no contract extension announcement yet, we still don’t know what the decision will be.
Strålman’s Season in Review
Strålman had a slow start to 2021-22, recording just 14 points heading into the trade deadline amid trade speculation surrounding him. He picked up his game in the back half of the season, including registering six points in the team’s final 10 games and a three-game point streak in the team’s final five games. He also stayed out of the box, adding 12 penalty minutes to his season stats, along with a minus-16 rating.
With 930 NHL games under his belt, no one questioned what to expect from the veteran. He’s already cemented his place as a solid top-six defenseman, and given the chance, he was able to lead or join the rush efficiently while showcasing a lethal shot when given the lane to get the puck off his stick. While he struggled at times to keep pace, he kept the team together, never giving up when the game got out of reach.
What Strålman Can Improve On, Build Off Of
Despite his leadership qualities, Strålman needs to focus on certain areas of his game if he intends to keep playing. At times this season, he was caught flat-footed, failing to match the speed of those around him. He was lazy in his own end, failed to keep the puck out of his zone, and was invisible during stretches of the season. He also failed to bring any physicality despite his size.
Playing shutdown defense and staying on top of his game, nothing seems to stop Strålman. He has a very good shot that was on display late in the season, and he is great on the power play. He’s a smart passer and a good role model to the team’s younger defensive core, including Jakob Chychrun, with whom he developed some chemistry.
Strålman’s Next Moves
This summer will be filled with questions for Strålman. He’s proved he’s still reliable as a bottom-pairing defenseman, and he hopes to continue playing. He’s open to staying in Arizona, and early reports indicate that the organization thinks the same way. The Coyotes are looking for strong voices and leaders for their locker room, and he is a wise veteran who knows how to win.
While the Coyotes still have a ways to go in terms of consistent success, they are slowly building towards an exciting future in the desert that will only improve with time. That begins with veteran mentorship/leadership. Whether the Coyotes decide to bring the Swede back or not, they understand his value. While he may not be a top-line d-man or as fast as he once was, he can pass on his 15 years of knowledge and experience to the team’s young core.
The Coyotes will have other options to look at this offseason in terms of veteran defensemen. Strålman still wants to play, and this offseason will tell us just exactly where that will be.
What do you think of Strålman? Lets us know in the comments section below. Next week is Andrew Ladd.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.