So the Leafs have traded Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart, and a 7th round pick in exchange for Wayne Primeau and a 2nd.
First off, there's still some confusion over Stralman's status with regards to waiver eligibility, and in looking it over I see I was wrong the last time I looked it up too:
The Leafs signed Anton Stralman to a 3 year entry level contract on May 16, 2007. Stralman was born on August 1, 1986, meaning that he was still technically 20 years old at the time of the signing, but according to the NHL he was 21 for the purposes of waiver eligibility (as player age is decided by the calendar year he turns 21, not the player's age the day he signs).
Players signing their first NHL contract at the age of 21 are waiver exempt for 3 years or until they have played 60 NHL games, according to NHLscap. Stralman's 38 games played last year added to his 50 the year before mean that he will be waiver eligible this year.
So the short answer is yes, trading Stralman gets one NHL defenseman off the roster. 3 more to go...
With that in mind, is this a bad trade? It's tough to say.
Trading Stralie as he is for a 2nd is decent market value, and considering that he's likely too far down on the depth chart to make the club after camp calling him up next year would be impossible (or force us to do what we were doing last season, with the rotating carousel of defensemen). Unless he was going to have a massive showing at camp it's probably for the best that we got what assets we could.
Also, knowing Burke, this is another "give the kid a shot" move, letting someone go so that they can find success elsewhere. It's possible that Stralman asked for a trade, it's possible that he was considering bolting to Sweden.
On the flipside, this is exactly the kind of trade that has been historically biting the Leafs in the ass. Stralman's ceiling is high, and he was coming off career highs in points in both the AHL and NHL as well as improved defensive stats over his rookie season, despite what public perception of his play was. Stralman was not a regressing player, he was an improving one, and there's every chance to believe that if he can crack a lineup we'll be moaning about it later.
Also, this is a salary dump on Calgary's part, albeit a small one. They're a team right up against the salary cap, they're supposed to be paying for the priviledge of getting money off the books. So why did we trade two young guys and a pick? I'd be much happier with this trade if we'd actually added to our draft pool, but we didn't (and for the nay sayers that want to say 7th rounders never amount to resources, Stralman was a 7th round pick and he gave us 88 games and evidently some trade leverage).
There's also the issue of depth. I just made a post about the Leafs' success rate without Kaberle in the lineup in the event he goes, but Stralman was a big part of those games in terms of PP time and outlet passing. Beyond Schenn and Stralman, the Leafs blueline prospects were incredibly thin on talent, and are now even more so. There's also nobody on the Marlies or even close to the roster in the pipeline who possesses the same skill set as Stralman. 3 years down the line, when we've ditched just about all our blue line corps, will we be glad we dumped Stralie with nobody else to take a puck-moving role on our defense for one more year of Mike Van Ryn and Jonas Frogren?
The expectation this offseason was that we would get younger, and that we would add scoring talent. This trade does neither, and in the last few days all we've seen from Burke is the intention of dumping 23 year olds from the thinnest parts of our depth chart.
All told, it's hard to be ecstatic about getting a 2nd and a 33 year-old for two younger guys and a pick, especially for a team that has historically paid dearly for not developing it's players. But there's every chance that both Stralman and Stuart never play an NHL game again. There's also every chance that Stralman finds a way to live up to his potential. I'd give it about 50/50. But Burke had to do something, and this deal was certainly that.
Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: A must win game for Florida - The Panthers come to town needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt. Will Toronto oblige? Game 74 of the Toronto Maple Leafs season will happen tonight....
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