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The Ryan Strome Trade: Optimism

It’s not that bad

Colorado Avalanche v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As we all know, the Oilers traded their whipping boy in Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome. This trade happened two months ago now on June 22nd, 2017. I didn’t like it at the time, I still don’t but I’m starting to view it as not really that big of a problem. Eberle was better than his stats showed but he was also frustrating. Ryan Strome has a better Cap hit and versatility, and neither of these players are game changers. I’ve been stewing over this since the trade happened and have decided that the hyperbole is unnecessary as I’m not near as concerned about it as I was the day it happened.

Jordan Eberle was traded — at least in part — due to fan perception of him. He wasn’t scoring, he was a floater, he lacked try-hard and other ape noises and I was quite willing to chalk that up all to low shooting percentages. I still believe that he was a victim of low shooting percentage and other luck based issues beyond his control, but does it matter? I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to claim that I wasn’t screaming at the TV while watching Eberle this season. He’d find himself in great scoring positions and miss the net at rates equivalent to Shawn Horcoff. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would repeatedly send him the puck and Eberle would proceed to miss the net with it. Naturally this is highly anecdotal but anecdotes are a pretty big part of watching a sport designed for entertainment.

Eberle had his 2 statistically worst season since his rookie year in the past two. Is this a trend or is it garbage that can be dismissed? Those are the two years where he was no longer a 1st liner for significant periods of time, it might just be his ice-time. Regardless though, as fans, it’s hard to accept a player scoring less than the accustomed to amount. He was given his contract after an incredible 76 point season. Although 6M would be a complete steal for 76 points per year, most of us fans were under the impression that that was part of the deal. He didn’t live up to it and at a certain point, you can no longer sell the player to fans and you have to accommodate their desire to see a player gone.

On the other side of the coin we have Ryan Strome. He can allegedly play both center and wing, he only has a 2.5 Million dollar contract and has averaged right around a half point per game throughout his career. The dollar savings are alright as long as we ignore where the savings went, we should get a better value/point ratio despite contracts typically rising on a parabolic curve relative to point totals. In general he’s not a really bad player or something like that. He’s not as good as Eberle, he won’t get the points, he’s as slow as an NHL player can get away with being but the Oilers might find more use out of him. Eberle’s only skill was scoring, granted, that a pretty useful skill to have but he wasn’t versatile throughout the lineup, he couldn’t kill penalties, and he wasn’t really someone you trusted on the ice in overtime. Now, I’m not terribly convinced that Strome can do those things either so all I can really do is go in with an open mind. Maybe he has great chemistry with his line mates, maybe he did nothing but work on his skating all summer, maybe Jack Capuano really is the reason that he didn’t succeed for the Islanders, I don’t know. What I do know, is that Eberle could not do those things and sometimes there is reason to go with an unknown commodity over one that wasn’t filling your needs.

When it’s all said and done, I’m well aware of the pattern here, Tylor Hall for Adam Larsson, Eberle for Strome, a 1st and a high 2nd for Griffin Reinhart, Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais etc. and none of those trades resulted in proper value for the asset going out. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. None of those trades set this team back. Would the team be better if they weren’t made? Maybe, but I don’t see any of them as the extreme detriment they appeared to be at the time. On paper this team looks worse than last year’s roster, despite this, I see them going further in the playoffs and racking up more regular season points. At its very worst, this trade resulted in giving up a 50 point player for a 30 point player. 20 points out of a single player really isn’t as significant as it sounds. I’m not sure what to expect out of Griffin Reinhart but I know that McLellan is an excellent coach capable of getting a lot out of his players. If Strome accepts his duties and does them well, I’ll be happy.

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Oscar Klefbom are likely to keep improving this year, that’s going to make the team look like this was a good trade because a lot of people judge individuals by team success. Kevin Lowe and his knowledge of winning sure do. I’m not one of those people, if Strome is bad and Eberle is good I’ll still question the point of this trade but if the team does better than last year, I’m not going to drone on about it being the end of the world. These trades whether good or bad aren’t the difference of a championship team and missing the playoffs, they’re just largely insignificant. So, here’s to Ryan Strome: Welcome to the Oilers, I’m not going to try and judge you against Eberle’s imaginary production, just do your best and I’ll be happy.