It’s been just about two months since Jordan Eberle was dealt to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome in a classic salary dump manoeuvre. The death knell for Jordan Eberle was a sufficiently poor enough postseason performance (0-2-2 in 13 GP) after a regular season that was his worst full campaign (20-31-51) since his rookie year in 2010-11.
I understand why Eberle was traded. It wasn’t a very good reason why he was traded, but I see where the club was coming from. Along with the now departed Taylor Hall (6MM AAV) and likely soon to be departed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6MM AAV), Jordan Eberle’s cap hit (6MM AAV) was too much for a guy on a down year. Add the fact that the Oilers are a team that’s a year away from a big crunch. Not good enough? Alright, then, the Oilers would take the cap hit (about 3.5MM AAV) and give it to Kris Russell on a deal that lasts until the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. Yeah, if you wanna go rinse off, now’s the time.
Now that we’ve got those unpleasantries out of the way, let’s talk about the player that they received in return. In case you’re just joining us, that’s Ryan Strome.
The good thing about the return? Ryan Strome is an actual bona-fide NHL player. That’s a good start. The fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Strome burst out with fifty points (17-33-50) in his first full season with the Islanders back in 2014-15. That’s pretty damn good. More encouraging? Strome only shot 9.5% that year, which means that in those 17 goals, he’s shooting the puck a bunch. A slight bounce in that percentage could’ve put Strome with 20 goals on the year.
A bonus? Strome can play centre or wing. The ability to play both positions will no doubt help, as you’re well aware that placing a wing down the middle with no experience is bad business.
It hasn’t been that good since then. Just 28 points (8-20-28) in 2015-16, and 30 points (13-17-30) in 69 games this past season. Strome was healthy-scratched on more than one occasion. A broken wrist near the conclusion of this past season didn’t help much. Maybe Jack Capuano hasn’t used Strome to his benefit. Playing alongside Anthony Beauvillier (9-15-24 in 66 GP) and Brock Nelson (20-25-45 in 81 GP) may not have activated Peak Strome.
SO NOW WHAT?
As Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey suggested, the best way to get Strome back to his 50 point self is to play him alongside Connor McDavid. That’s a great idea, but there’s a lot of things that are going to happen if that happens. Namely, it’s going to push Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down to what is likely the third line, and it’s going to break up the Connor McDavid / Leon Draisaitl tandem that’s been working so well for the past year.
I’m not against Draisaitl running his own line. Rather, I’m quite for it. If Leon can push the second line alongside Strome, that would be great for all parties. It frees up the top line for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to appear on the right side as well. You’re probably smart enough to figure out what happens if Nugent-Hopkins runs another 45 point season at 3C. It involves receiving peanuts in a deal for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Come to think of it, that’s probably the most likely outcome.
Maybe Strome opens the year on the 2RW slot. Maybe Jesse Puljujarvi spends some more time in the AHL. Instead of Zack Kassian or Anton Slepyshev (11 career points) on the top six, Strome gets a crack on a barren right side, and this would be my guess as to where he starts in 2017-18 if Jesse Puljujarvi isn’t up with the big club.
Strome on the third line is what we’ve seen the most of over the past year on Long Island. A third line of Jokinen-Strome-Kassian doesn’t look all that bad. There probably wouldn’t be an awful lot of scoring on this line, but it would open up the opportunity for two big scoring lines with something like 19-97-93 on the top line and 27-29-98 if Puljujarvi is ready.
What can we expect from a healthy Ryan Strome in 2017-18?
Assume 82 games played. How many points will Ryan Strome score in 2017-18?
This poll is closed
less than 25