Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Anton Stralman believes Lightning close to complete

TAMPA — New Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman is a huge heavy metal music fan and can string a few tunes himself.

Stralman, 27, said when he and his wife, Johanna, moved in together in 2005, he had to give up video games, so he decided to buy a guitar for his 19th birthday. He's no Slash, but can play Guns N' Roses' Patience pretty well.

"I wish I was good, like to think I'm good," Stralman said, smiling. "But it's just not happening."

Fortunately for Stralman, he can stick to his day job, which recently got a lot more security. The former Ranger signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal with Tampa Bay on July 1, with the father of four making a brief trip to Tampa this week to house-hunt and research schools.

While Stralman doesn't know the bay area very well, he's well-versed in his new employer.

"This team really excites me," Stralman said. "I think this team is very promising. When you're making your choice, you want to see progress in a team in a positive way, and I think this team has all those good areas.

"I think this team is close to complete. Honestly the forwards, tremendous firepower there, best scorer in the league (Steven Stamkos), can't ask for more really."

Stralman said he spoke with former Rangers teammate Ryan Callahan and fellow Swede Victor Hedman before signing, wanting to confirm his positive thoughts. Stralman gives Tampa Bay the right-handed shooting, top-four defenseman it needed, and the team provided the 27-year-old veteran with the desired stability, including a no-trade clause.

Stralman is coming off what he considers his most consistent season, with one goal, 12 assists and a plus-9 in 81 games, stepping up in the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup final.

"He's a really quiet player, but he just seems to do everything right," coach Jon Cooper said. "He gets the puck, he makes the first pass. You watch as a coach, who is he defending against? He's always defending against top lines. He's a top-four defenseman on a team that went to the Stanley Cup final. He got assignments against big-time players and had success."

It wasn't always that way. Stralman has had to earn everything in the NHL, having come in as a seventh-round pick in 2005 with the Maple Leafs. He arrived from Sweden as an offensive-minded defenseman who'd spark a power play.

But after being a combined minus-40 in his first four NHL seasons with the Leafs and Blue Jackets, and leaving a 2011 training camp tryout with the Devils without an offer, Stralman knew he had to change. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder signed with the Rangers, and adapted his game to a more defensive style under coach John Tortorella. Stralman was a plus-32 in his three seasons in New York while playing heavy minutes.

"It was hard," Stralman said. "It was obviously a long process. Lots of ups and downs. But going into New York, and obviously with Torts, I knew the way my game was it isn't going to work. Not going to be able to play, not going to take this chance I was given. So I worked hard to focus on the defensive part of my game. It took me a while but I think I earned Torts' trust, and that really helped me get even more experience and get some good feedback. I knew I was doing something right."

Stralman hopes to rediscover his offensive game in the Lightning's system, which has more freedom, without sacrificing what got him his big payday.

"He's one of the more underrated guys," said former Rangers teammate Brian Boyle, who also signed with the Lightning. "He can skate, he sees the ice so well and he doesn't panic with the puck. He's a huge pickup."

Stralman is returning to New York today, but he will soon go back to Sweden for a month with Johanna and their two sons and two daughters, who range in age from 1½ to 7, before settling in Tampa.

"I told my daughter there's dolphins here," Stralman said, "so hopefully there are."

SIGNINGS: The Lightning added to its depth at AHL Syracuse on Tuesday by signing forward Cody Kunyk and defenseman Matt Corrente to one-year, two-way deals. Kunyk, 24, made his NHL debut with the Lightning on April 13 and was a restricted free agent. Corrente, 26, who has played 34 NHL games, had two goals, 11 assists and 136 penalty minutes with AHL Charlotte last season. Also, Syracuse signed goaltender Allen York to a one-year, two-way AHL contract.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected]om. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith

 
Comments
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegasí birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Published: 05/25/18
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Published: 05/24/18
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and donít panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

Lightning fans leaving Game 7 early: Understandable or bad form?

TAMPA — Lightning fans were heading for the exits with three minutes remaining in Tampa Bay's 4-0 loss to Washington Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. Understandable given the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley C...
Published: 05/24/18
The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

The single biggest reason Tampa Bay isnít headed to the Stanley Cup final

TAMPA — Washington is on to Vegas. The Lightning is not. So we asked the Times' Lightning coverage team for the single biggest reason Tampa Bay isn't headed to the Stanley Cup final. Here's their answers:Roger Mooney, staff writer: Th...
Published: 05/24/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Scoring drought brings Lightning season to a close

The Lightning will miss out on the Stanley Cup final after being shut out by the Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Bolts were the highest-scoring team during the regular season but failed to score in almost all of the final eigh...
Published: 05/24/18
Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

Postgame reactions from Lightningís Game 7 loss to the Capitals

The Lightning was shut out once in the first 97 games of the season, the playoffs included. Then it was shut out during the last two games of the Eastern Conference final, including 4-0 on Wednesday to the Capitals in Game 7.Here are some postgame re...
Published: 05/24/18
Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

Lightning journal: A rare fight to this finish

TAMPA — After Alex Ovechkin's goal 62 seconds into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday, the next highlight was an extended fight between Lightning D Braydon Coburn and Capitals RW Tom Wilson, with a two-minute break for them to spe...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18