Just hours after the Boston Bruins announced that they had signed defenseman Anton Stralman to a professional tryout Saturday morning, the 36-year-old defenseman was donning the No. 36 for the Bruins on the ice at training camp.
“Good first day for me,” an excited Stralman told reporters after his first skate with the Boston Bruins. “Ease into it a little bit; get my feet under me and then we can go from there.”
Stralman told the assembled media that he doesn’t know many of his potentially new teammates at all, but he’s played against them plenty of times and in the process, built up a ton of respect for the Boston Bruins as an NHL organization.
“I’ve played this team quite a bit over the last few years; both with Tampa and the Panthers,” Stralman pointed out. “It’s always been one of those tough teams to play against. An organization expecting to win, wanting to win and that’s exciting.”
Stralman continued to praise the Boston Bruins culture on and off the ice, specifically mentioning captain Patrice Bergeron.
“When I look at this roster, there’s a lot of guys that are hitting their prime right now, and also you have guys like ‘Bergy’ and guys that have won and know what it takes,” Stralman said. “That’s an exciting mix and then especially with the goalies too, I think it’s a fun team. If I didn’t think this team will be successful, I wouldn’t be here.”
There already seems to be a mutual respect for Stralman from new Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery.
“Anton’s really smart,” Montgomery said of the veteran rearguard. “Anton has never been a really fast, gifted skater in the league and what I mean by that is he’s been always an above average skater. His gift is his brain and how he competes and guys like that are able to extend their careers because they have the ability to adjust because of their brains.
So for us, it’s exciting to have him here because it gives us another right-handed shot, and I think as a coach, you like to have a righty and a lefty as much as you can because on breakouts and on neutral zone counters, pucks can go a lot easier on your forehand.”
Montgomery made it a point to praise Stralman’s vision and execution on breakouts even more.
“Well I think not only can he get up the ice but with a lot of the stuff we’re looking to do, he understands,” Montgomery pointed out. “His brain works at a high offensive level. He understands timing and spacing and stuff that we’re looking at. He’s one of those players that I think can visualize and see it. He can jump the holes a lot quicker than some other guys that haven’t been used to it.”
Anton Stralman had eight goals and 23 points in 74 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season after a couple of seasons fighting through injuries with the Florida Panthers, but has been a solid top-4 defenseman at the NHL level for 15 seasons with 930 NHL games and counting on his resume. Stralman was at the end of a three-year, $16.5 million contract last season that was originally signed with the Panthers after a long stretch with the Tampa Bay Lightning.