Anton Stralman cleared for contact, getting closer to return

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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman is inching closer to a return to the lineup.

Sidelined for a couple of weeks due to an upper body injury, Stralman was cleared for contact on Saturday and could return to game action during their upcoming three-game road trip.

He is not likely to play on Sunday in Boston, but coach Jon Cooper said on Saturday, via Bryan Burns of Lightning.com, that it is a possibility he could return during the trip that also includes visits to Columbus and St. Louis.

After bouncing around the league for several years and never really finding a steady spot, Stralman has blossomed into one of the league’s most reliable defensemen over the past four years. He finally started to get the recognition for his play during the 2013-14 playoffs as a member of the New York Rangers, helping him land a huge contract in free agency with the Lightning. He has been a fantastic addition to their core.

When you combine his defensive play with the fact he is usually a 35-point player from the blue line he is an extremely valuable player and one of the best all-around players in the league at the position.

In 15 games this season he has one goal, six assists and is a 53.9 percent Corsi player, the second best mark on the team behind only Steven Stamkos (who is also currently injured).