Ranked all over the map in different draft rankings, Antonio Stranges is an enigma. After scoring at more than half a point per game during his rookie season for the London Knights, the 5’10”, 170 pound left winger only improved marginally offensively during his sophomore year, with 40 points in 61 games.
Known for his elite skating and puck-handling skills, Antonio Stranges was born in Plymouth, Michigan. The February 2002-born was drafted in the second round, 21st overall, of the 2018 OHL Draft by the powerhouse London Knights after playing three seasons with the Little Caesars AAA team in his home state.
Tony Ferrari of DobberProspects wrote two reports on Antonio Stranges. His first breakdown in November 2019:
Stranges has elite-level skating talent in just about every facet of the skill. His agility and edgework are exceptional, his speed is impressive, to say the least, and his use of the ’10-2′ technique to generate speed through the neutral zone is special to watch as he opens himself up to make a variety of plays. Stranges pairs his elite skating with high-end puck skills and the ability to put the puck on a string at times. His stickhandling ability is fun to watch as he weaves in and out of traffic, maneuvering the neutral zone in transition and creating space on offense. His hot is good but relies on his quick release. His vision and playmaking ability can be inconsistent at times but he displays the tools to be a high-end playmaker. Stranges has shown top-15 ability at times but consistency will be a key factor on whether or not he realizes his potential during his draft-eligible season
And here’s Tony’s shorter update regarding Stranges in February 2020:
Stranges’ elite level skating and unique playing style haven’t been translating to production as expected. His 38 points in 52 games have a lot to do with some inconsistencies in his effectiveness. His game has stayed to the outside as it was last season and the effort to get into more dangerous spots is far too infrequent. His flashy skating and high-end pucks skills are enough to intrigue but he is slowly working his way out of the first-round conversation. Stranges has a boatload of talent but there are concerns with how transferrable his skill set is at the next level
Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers has plenty of great things to say about Antonio Stranges’ game, however, the following excerpt is what he claims the Plymouth, Michigan native needs to improve on:
Playing a 200ft game is something Stranges is going to have to develop. Too often I find the lack of effort to backcheck and defend frustrating. And may be a reason Coach Hunter doesn’t give him prime minutes. It’s not something to be overly concerned about as many a player has shown to find that part of their game as they mature. But it is something that will make your draft stock drop in the meantime.
It’s clear that Antonio Stranges is a long-term project player. While he is uber-talented in the offensive zone, his lackluster defensive efforts are what has led to him receiving less playing time in Dale Hunters 200ft game system. Stranges’ high-end skating has been mentioned numerous times, below is just one example of what forward has to offer.
Antonio Stranges, continuing to prove why he’s the BEST Skater in the 2020 NHL Draft, absolutely INSANE.
— Nathan “Grav" (@NathanGraviteh) September 28, 2019
Despite having elite-level talent in both skating and puck-handling, Stranges only scored at a 0.66 pts/game pace (good for 8th on the London Knights and 2nd among first time draft-eligible players on his team). Furthermore, as a -2 in goal differential, he was tied for the second-lowest on the team.
With all that being said, it’s interesting to see how Antonio’s numbers would look if he was used in more situations. For the last two seasons, Stranges has been stuck behind players like Alex Formenton, Connor McMichael, and Liam Foudy. As a result, the nimble speedster has been given power play and prime playing minutes very sparingly.
Availability and fit
The Flames haven’t shied away from drafting smaller players in the past, especially outside of the first round. Antonio Stranges, with his outstanding skating and puckhandling abilities, fits the bill.
A player with such natural and raw talent, regardless of other shortcomings, deserves a deep and long look. A project player who needs to work on his defensive game and improve on making plays in-tight, Stranges needs to attain a top-six role in the National Hockey League if he wants to be an effective player in hockey’s greatest league.
In terms of availability, it’s unclear when Antonio Stranges will hear his name being called; ranked: 48th by Future Considerations, 82nd by McKeen’s Hockey, 76th by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and 55th by The Hockey News. As Ryan Pike mentioned recently, due to conditional picks the Calgary Flames most likely won’t have a pick at all in the third round. With their second-round pick being at 50th overall, Brad Treliving and Co. have an excellent chance at picking up a promising prospect in Antonio Stranges.
With the nature of his game and talent level, Antonio Stranges is a high reward and relatively low-risk prospect given his estimated draft positioning. With his defensive game being one of Stranges’ weaknesses, the Flames brass can rest assured that the speed demon will get some of the best training in the world under Dale Hunter before he turns pro.