If I told you there was a forward in the NHL who is only 23 years old, produces offense at the rate of a high end second liner, while also being one of the top players in the NHL at driving possession, and this player was being held out of his team because they refuse to pay him three million dollars? To me that seems like a recipe for a trade. Ryan Strome is clearly a talented player, and according to the hockey news, is at risk to miss the upcoming season due to a contract dispute with the Islanders.
It’s not as if Strome has been impatient with the Isles. After being drafted 5th overall in 2011, Strome waited until the 2014-2015 season to get his first full season in the NHL, despite proving on multiple occasions that he was ready for the big leagues. He put up 50 points that season, but this clearly wasn’t enough proof to the Isles that he was ready, because last season he was sent to the AHL again after having a slow start to the season.
Strome’s talent is undeniable though. He is an offensive threat, but his true value is his ability to drive the puck in his team’s favour. Contrary to what many believe, possession isn’t the same as defense. Strome isn’t good defensively. In fact he’s pretty bad at it. But he is so good at generating shots, that he is still a net positive for his team.
In terms of expected goals, you can expect the Isles to allow 0.31 more goals against for every hour Strome spends on the ice. However, you can also expect them to score 0.68 more goals in their favour in that same hour. So even though he is pretty bad at keeping the puck out of his own net, the Isles are 0.37 goals better off while Strome is on the ice. All those numbers come after adjusting for score, zone and venue, so Strome’s fairly easy deployment is factored in.
Strome could be a fixture on most teams first line, and would upgrade any team’s top-six if given the opportunity. Since the Islanders clearly don’t appreciate what they have in Strome, it begs the question: is a trade possible? If so, there are some obvious candidates as trade partners.
Arizona immediately stands out for me as being a good fit. They are an analytically savvy team first off, so they are likely to appreciate just how much Strome brings to the table. Also the Coyotes have plenty of picks and prospects to make a trade for a young player work. Last but not least, Ryan’s brother Dylan Strome plays in the Coyotes organization. If there was a chance to unite the two, it’s definitely something Arizona’s management needs to look into.
The Ottawa Senators were all in on the Drouin sweepstakes, and time and time again have made their desire to add a top six winger known. They also have a strict internal budget, so if they could add said winger for the price tag of around three million on a bridge deal, it’s surely something they’d look into. The Senators are one of the worst possession teams in the NHL, and Strome would be a big help in that aspect.
Montreal also seems like it could be a solid fit for the youngster, as they have very little up front outside of Pacioretty, Gallagher and Galchenyuk. Strome could fit in on any of their top lines, and could even end up being their second line centre, as Plekanec is not a viable option as the Habs 1C anymore (or ever…). Having Strome and Galchenyuk down the middle would be a solid tandem.
So Strome is clearly a talented player who isn’t appreciated by his team. That seems like the perfect opportunity for someone else to swoop in and grab a good, young player for below market value. Strome’s trade value has likely never been lower, despite being a high-end player.