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2010 NHL Free Agency: Blue Jackets, Anton Stralman agree on ‘last minute’ deal

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We’ve discussed a handful of deals that were made in the “last minute” before salary arbitration, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Blue Jackets and Anton Stralman’s contract might have taken that seriously. Apparently the two sides met an hour before the 9 a.m. deadline and agreed on a one-year, $1.9 million deal just a few minutes before the hearing was about to begin.

As we’ve noted before, salary arbitration often hurts both sides: one party might “win” more than the other but bitterness can be developed, especially if the team really turns the screws on its player. It’s almost like going to divorce court with your seemingly happy spouse.

There were some worries that an unpleasant arbitration award would force the Blue Jackets to allow Stralman to walk - and therefore mess up their already shaky powerplay point situation - so Columbus can breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, the team signed Stralman to a low-risk one-year deal that will give him the opportunity to improve his market value for next summer.

Somewhat amazingly, Stralman will only be the fifth-highest paid defenseman in Columbus. He’s behind red afro enthusiast Mike Commodore ($3.75 million per year), Rostislav “Rusty” Klesla ($2.975), Fedor Tyutin ($2.84) and Jan Hejda ($2).

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson says that he “likes his group” of seven defensemen but is exploring trade options to improve the talent level. Let’s hope so, because to be honest, the Blue Jackets’ roster looks pretty thin when you compare it to the other teams in the Central division. That being said, things would be just a bit less positive without Stralman in the mix, so good on both parties for getting a deal done.