Stralman, who was taken in the seventh round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, by the Leafs, had shown potential in the 88 NHL games he managed to play.
His goals and assists adding up to 22 points, he showed potential as a skilled defenseman, and many considered him the "next" Tomas Kaberle.
Perhaps the words of a CBC announcer during a Leafs-Canadiens game on March 29, 2009 gave it away, "[Anton Stralman] has got a whole load of talent, he just has to get stronger defensively and his body play has to get stronger as well."
Stralman wasn't the grittiest and most physical player out there, but he did show potential with his skill.
Brian Burke made it obvious that grit and physical play was what he wanted in his defensemen, when he acquired Beauchemin, Exelby, and Komisarek. This left us wondering; where does Anton Stralman fit into his plans?
Is Stralman physical?
No, but he's got a lot of talent and potential. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep Burke's sticky hands away.
Perhaps Burke could've made an exception for a player with such potential as Stralman.
So who's next? Who doesn't quite fit in and doesn't have a big contract with a no trade clause in it?
From the start, Burke has made it clear he wants two skilled lines, and two clean-up lines. This is where Stajan doesn't quite fit in.
The Mississauga native has played six seasons with the Maple Leafs, which should be enough for Burke to evaluate his potential.
Is Stajan a skilled player that can fit into the first or second line?
Not exactly. He can, however, set up plays, feed the puck to wingers, and score a goal every once in a while...but is it enough?
Is Stajan a physical player that can play on the third or fourth line?
Not really. He can be aggressive on certain parts of his game, but no one can really see him as a "clean-up" line player.
However, Stajan does bring certain things to the bench that other players didn't. Leadership was one of the things Stajan was known for. He was a leader in the dressing room and on the bench, which was great when Sundin left, but with Burke bringing in guys like May, he won't be needed as much.
Consistency was something Stajan had last season, that perhaps made him most valuable. While other players had their streaks and then went cold for a while, Stajan was consistent and could always be relied on. You could place him on the power play, or penalty kill and he could help get the job done.
We must also realize Stajan is still young and can still develop into a better player. We've seen potential not just on ice, but again, is it enough?
Is what Matt Stajan brings to the Leafs off and on the ice, as well as the potential he has to improve, enough for Burke to make an exception?
Burke proved something on July 27, 2009; he doesn't like making exceptions.
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