position/player: D, Anton stralman
Former team: tampa bay lightning
term: three years
Aav/Total value: $5.5 million aav/ $16.5 million total
what you need to know
The Panthers desperately needed help on their blue line after allowing the most goals against in the history of the franchise last year. A veteran defensive presence with playoff experience was one of the biggest needs this summer and the Panthers addressed it by signing Anton Stralman.
He is the perfect veteran compliment to pair with either Keith Yandle or Mike Matheson for the next couple of seasons at least. Stralman is coming off of a major injury that limited him to just 47 games a year ago, and age-wise, he is on the wrong side of thirty which makes the length of his contract a bit concerning. But, he is as reliable as they come, committing the fewest turnovers his past two full seasons of any defenseman playing over 20 minutes per night.
The Panthers havenâ€™t had that kind of reliability on the blue line since Brian Campbell. Stralman should be able to play 20 minutes of shutdown hockey in the top-4 every night and that is what the Cats have been so sorely missing over the past few seasons. He also has deceptive offensive ability, good feet, and can move the puck ahead to his forwards quickly. Weâ€™ve seen a lot of Stralman in recent years as heâ€™s been a mainstay on the ice in Tampa.
Whether heâ€™s been paired with Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, or Ryan McDonagh, he has rarely made mistakes over the years and thereâ€™s no reason to believe that canâ€™t continue with the Panthers young defense. He should be a solid fixture in the top-4 this season and presumably for a couple deep playoff runs.