Full disclosure before we hop into this post: When dealing with a report from a European media outlet that's being translated from Swedish-to-English, credibility or authenticity isn't of the highest quality. Add considering the subject matter we're dealing with, and things turn even grayer. But on Tuesday, a Swedish media outlet posted a story after having tracked down Anton Stralman for an interview. The original link is here, and a translated page is here.
According to that report, Stralman wanted and intended to re-sign with the Rangers, but after he presented a counter-offer to the team's original proposal, communication broke off. From the piece, a quote from Stralman, which I cleaned up a bit:
"I wanted to be there and it seemed that the Rangers wanted to keep me. I was fully set to be left and the dream was also to be allowed to stay there. We, both me and the family has moved around enough. Now we lived in New York and we wanted to stay there.
"New York came up with an offer and we came up with a counter offer and after that we were prepared to negotiate, but there was nothing. They do not even come back to me.
"I'm extremely disappointed with what happened. Since enlisted Rangers, Dan Boyle and then I understood what they were doing. Of course you then get very frustrated and angry. I think you could have the respect to tell me earlier that you wanted to go a different route. It had made the decision a little easier for us to know where we would go but it now became.
"Now, it dissolves well anyway with Tampa and we've been down here for a month now. We just bought a house and got the key to it, so it feels good."
Stralman originally rejected a contract offer the Rangers floated right before the Olympic break. That deal was reportedly for three years, carrying an AAV of $3 million, numbers in retrospect Stralman obviously exceeded. The curious and perhaps concerning part of this report is the Rangers unwillingness to meet Stralman at the negotiating table.
Considering that Stralman's replacement, Boyle, is carrying the exact same $4.5 million Stralman currently is on his new deal, this could mean a few things. From what Stralman said in this article, it sounds like he thinks the Rangers made the decision to go with Boyle over him. Whether that's because of the reduced price tag (Stralman probably accepts the same exact deal that Boyle got from the Rangers, but asks for more annually for a two-year term), or because the Rangers simply wanted Boyle over Stralman is unclear. The former certainly is lot more logical than the latter, as Stralman is a possession juggernaut, a fancy stats darling, and a very solid second pairing defenseman.
This was a tweet that was sent out right before the free agency period opened. If the Rangers really did completely cut off communication (which certainly wasn't the impression at the time), this makes a lot more sense.
Stralman agent Marc Levine: ``Anton will head to FA market if we do not hear from Rangers within next 10 minutes.''— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 1, 2014
Meanwhile, if Stralman's account is true, and there were simply two offers exchanged, it's very possible the Rangers knew right away they were priced out, had done their homework on Boyle, and simply decided to go in a different direction.
Then again, would you rather have Boyle for the next two years, or Stralman for the next five, given they're both being paid the same?