Anton Stralman is not the first veteran player to be placed on waivers by the Florida Panthers this season and, due to the odd circumstances of 2021, may not be the last.
Still, the news that the Panthers would waive a veteran defenseman who plays as much as Stralman does did come as a surprise Friday.
The Panthers do not comment when they place a player on waivers so we do not know, exactly, what their plan is with Stralman.
This we do know: The 34-year-old signed a three-year deal with the team as part of the Panthers’ Class of 2019. He is owed one more year on that contract and is due to make $5.5 million per PuckPedia.com.
So, unless the Panthers have a deal worked out with a team they know would only take Stralman for nothing, the odds he gets claimed seem remote.
Last month, Florida placed Brett Connolly (who also signed in 2019 and has two more seasons remaining) on waivers and he went unclaimed as expected.
Connolly was moved to the taxi squad and has, for the most part, remained there. Connolly has played in just one game since.
Stralman, based on his importance to the Panthers’ defense, likely will not see the same fate if he goes unclaimed and remains with the Panthers.
Due to the constrictions of the roster construction, and with the possibility injured defenseman Noah Juulsen could return from his AHL conditioning stint soon, the Panthers may just be looking for more flexibility.
If Stralman clears, the team is then free to slide Stralman down to the taxi squad (a move that does not affect his paycheck) on nights they want to give him a rest or want to see another defenseman in the lineup.
Over the past two seasons, for the most part, Stralman has been used on Florida’s defensive pairing. He and Gus Forsling have been the Panthers’ 3-4 for the past few weeks.
In Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the Blackhawks, Florida flexed in Markus Nutivaara as a 12th forward/seventh defenseman; it was Nutivaara’s first game in two weeks.
Waiving Stralman simply could be a means to having another eligible taxi squad member to create a roster spot on a given game night.
With the NHL’s trade deadline coming, and the thought Florida may add a center or two as well as yet another defenseman, this could just be a case of the team looking ahead.
BARKOV, HORNQVIST STATUS UNKNOWN
The Panthers took Friday off after flying to Dallas in the morning and will have a morning skate at AmericanAirlines Center on Saturday.
We should know the status of both Sasha Barkov and Patric Hornqvist then.
Barkov has missed the past two games with an undisclosed lower body injury; Hornqvist took a hard hit from Chicago defenseman Nikita Zadorov and had to be helped off the ice.
Hornqvist was favoring his left side.
ON DECK: PANTHERS AT STARS
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Season series: Florida leads 2-1