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Who Is Anton Stralman?

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Mike Ulmer has worked for seven news organizations including the National Post  and, most recently, the Toronto Sun. Mike has written about the Leafs for 10 years and wrote Captains, a book about the club's greatest leaders.

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Toronto -- How good is Anton Stralman going to be?

That's the question now that the Leafs have signed the 20-year-old Swedish defenceman to a three-year-deal.

Despite his youthfulness, Stralman was named one of the top three Swedish players at the recently completed World Hockey Championships in Moscow. The top three standing was bestowed on Stralman after a poll of tournament coaches. He scored one goal and added an assist in the tournament but it was his puck rushing and composure that won the six-foot-one, 180-pound rearguard widespread praise.

Stralman is considered an all-around defenceman with a powerful shot. He played 53 games for Timra IKI of the Swedish Elite League and scored 10 goals. Stralman was voted a first-team all star and led the league in ice time.

Stralman was a late find. The Leafs drafted him in the seventh round, 216th overall in the 2005 draft. Unearthing a jewel is rare but not unknown that late; the Maple Leafs drafted Tomas Kaberle 204th overall in 1996. Gifted forward Kyle Wellwood went 134th in 2001.

Still, Stralman's notices are staggering for a player in his draft position.

A March article by Patrik Thorneus in Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper detailed Stralman's standing in his home country.

Said Torgny Bendelin, a former Swedish national junior team coach: "I've said it before and I'll say it again. He's the next Nicklas Lidstrom. Quite simply a fantastic player. He's has enormous talent."

Swedish commentator Niklas Wikegard  said: "Stralman has a tremendous presence on the ice. He can dominate an entire shift in a way that only players the likes of Foppa (Peter Forsberg) and Nicklas Lidstrom are capable of doing."

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