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Anton Strålman’s disappointing season puts his Lightning future in question

With injury marring his March and April, Tampa Bay must decide if he’s still in the plans
Lightning defenseman Anton Strålman (6) missed Tampa Bay's series against Columbus with a lower-body injury and played only 47 regular-season games, finishing with two goals and 17 points. DIRK SHADD | Times
Published May 8
Updated May 9

(This is the fifth in a series this month looking at each player on the Lightning’s roster. Up next: Cedric Paquette)

TAMPA — Planning for the end of anything can be difficult. But not knowing when that end is coming might be more challenging.

Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman couldn’t have expected his 2018-19 season to end with a month-long lower-body injury coming out of a March 5 game against the Jets. He missed all but two of the team’s remaining 18 regular-season games and all four first-round playoff games against the Blue Jackets.

It was a disappointing conclusion for the 12-year veteran, 32, who also missed more than a month early in the season with an upper-body injury.

MORE LIGHTNING: Brayden Point tops break out season with better results

Stralman played just 47 games in all, and his offensive numbers were two goals and 15 assists.

Also, Stralman was often part of the defense rotation coach Jon Cooper implemented. All the defensemen with the exceptions of Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman made their rounds going in and out of the lineup. However, it always appeared as though when Stralman played, he was filling in for whoever was out that game. He never had a set pairing.

Now Stralman can be an unrestricted free agent July 1. Facing a salary-cap crunch, the Lightning has to decide if Stralman gets another chance to push for a championship in Tampa Bay or if he’ll continue his career elsewhere.

Stralman made $4.5 million this season, which made him the third-highest-paid defenseman on the roster behind Hedman ($7.875 million) and McDonagh ($4.7 million). The Lightning already has re-signed defenseman Jan Rutta, who could have been an unrestricted free agent, to a $1.3 million deal for one season. And defensemen Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn can be unrestricted free agents, which means the Lightning must make decisions about them, too.

MORE LIGHTNING: Tyler Johnson still tailor made for Lightning

But the Lightning’s biggest cap predicament is posed by center Brayden Point, a 2018 All-Star, who is set to be a restricted free agent. His re-signing is a priority. Point made $686,667 this season and most likely make between $6 million and $8 million in his next contract.

Is Stralman’s experience enough to convince Lightning executives to give one of the eldest players on the roster — he turns 33 Aug. 1 — another go at the Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay?

His numbers this season say no, but his experience in the league says yes.

Yet, experience didn’t bring the Lightning anywhere close to winning the Cup this year.

Anton Strålman’s season

High: On Dec. 29, Adam Erne raced toward the net for a pass, but the puck was deflected and intercepted in open ice by the Canadiens. Montreal’s Tomas Tatar scooped up the puck, but when he passed it to Jeff Petry, it hit off the back of Petry’s left skate. Stralman picked up the puck and drove toward the net for the unassisted goal, which helped tie up the score at two apiece and propel the Lightning to an exciting 6-5 win at Amalie Arena.

Low: The lower-body injury he had coming out of the March 5 game against the Jets that cost him 16 of the last 18 regular-season games and all four playoff games against the Blue Jackets.

By the numbers

47 Games played this season, Stralman’s fewest since he played 38 in 2008-09 with the Maple Leafs

17 Points, his fewest since he had 13 in 81 games with the Rangers in 2013-14

57 Shots on goal; this was the first season in six years he didn’t have at least 100

Plus-12: Tied with Mikhail Sergachev for third highest among Lightning defensemen

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.


  1. The Lightning's Carter Verhaeghe (54) works the puck against the Hurricanes' Teuvo Teravainen (86) of Finland, during the first period of a preseason game, in Raleigh, N.C,, last week. KARL B DEBLAKER  |  AP
    The forward, who has two in a preseason loss to the Predators, survives Sunday’s round of cuts.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) confers with forward Alex Barre-Boulet (60) before a face-off during the first period of the preseason game on Tuesday against Carolina. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Carter Verhaeghe scores twice in an OT loss to the Predators; Tampa Bay also trims its training camp roster by 14.
  3. The Lightning assigned Louis Domingue to the AHL on Saturday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The team has a logjam at goalie and Domingue is the odd man out, even after revitalizing his career.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (79) before an NHL preseason hockey game against the Nashville Predators Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    The 22-year-old forward prospect sends the Lightning to a 3-1 win over the Predators.
  5. Victor Hedman will play in the Lightning's preseason game against Nashville. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and other NHL regulars will play against Nashville
  6. The Lightning put goalie Louis Domingue on waivers Friday. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay plans to send both goalies to the AHL if they clear waivers
  7. Former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi announced his retirement on Friday. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The 35-year-old played 13 seasons total, making the playoffs 12 of those.
  8. Tim Tebow. [Associated Press)] Associated Press
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tom Jones and Rick Stroud debate Tebow, Dickie V, the first-place Bucs and the Rays playoff chase
  9. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) waits his turn during drills on the first day on the ice at the beginning of training camp at the Ice Sports Forum. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay doesn’t have many roster spots available, but the positions within the lineup are still taking shape.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jimmy Huntington (47) takes a bite out of his stick blade while taking with goaltending coach Frantz Jean on the first day on the ice at the beginning of training camp. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay has had success with undrafted players like Tyler Johnson and Alex Barre-Boulet.