Most summers, we can usually figure out what is going to happen based on the verbal around the Oilers. The hottest storyline this year is that of Jordan Eberle, who many believe will be traded by the club at some point in the next few weeks.
One of the most discussed destinations for Eberle is New York, where the Islanders are in need of a top-six scoring winger. Whatever you may think of Eberle after a down season, he’s still a very consistent scorer who found a way to pot 20 goals during the past campaign.
While most Oiler fans hope that Travis Hamonic is the return, and he has been rumored to be on the block, another name that is tossed around is that of Ryan Strome. The former 5th overall pick hasn’t established himself as a consistent top-six forward just yet, but he could be a target for this Oiler team.
Why Is He Out There?:
Ryan Strome broke out for 50 points during the 2014-15 season, but he hasn’t approached that mark since. Strome had just 28 points during the 2015-16 season and only improved slightly this past year, posting 30 points. The Islanders are counting on Strome to produce and the simple fact is he isn’t delivering.
With John Tavares approaching free agency and the pressure being on the Islanders to return to the playoffs next spring, Strome is supposedly available in an attempt for the Isles to acquire the top-six forward that New York hoped Strome would become.
There’s a chance he still gets there, and a change of scenery can help, but it appears right now that the Islanders are willing to give up on a once highly touted prospect.
What Does He Do Well?:
Strome is described by The Hockey News as having “superlative” offensive acumen and quickness. The report also lists his offensive instincts as a strength and claims that he can make defenders look “silly” with his ability to dangle and make plays.
Not surprisingly, consistency is a big issue with this player. Outside of his strong 2014-15 season, Strome simply has not been able to have sustained success at the NHL level. He’s still young and he’s still growing, but he is not there yet.
This is a player who doesn’t play a physical game and who struggles away from the puck. I’d argue that he would be a step down from Jordan Eberle this season in terms of play away from the puck, while being a clear step down offensively.
Offensively, Strome’s bread and butter is his ability to make plays. He’s not much of a goal scorer, but he has shown flashes of brilliance in setting up his teammates. His career high in goals is just 17, but he’s had two seasons of over twenty assists in the NHL.
Strome can play center or winger, but don’t expect him to help Edmonton’s face-off woes. Strome converted on just 42.7% of his 344 draws this season.
Where Will He Play/Where Should He Play?:
I think the answer to this question depends on what else the Oilers do. I’d imagine that, if acquired, Strome would play on the wing in Edmonton. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are set on the top two lines at center and I think Leon Draisaitl could see extended minutes at center as well depending on the situation.
Strome seems like a natural fit for a top-six right wing job with the Oilers, likely in Jordan Eberle’s spot if they are exchanged for each other.
At this point, Strome should be a high-level third line option and a replacement level top-six forward. I think he’d be too high in the batting order in Edmonton.
What Will He Cost?:
Strome is entering the final year of his contract and will count $2.5 million against the cap this coming season before becoming a RFA next July. Trade wise, the rumors have surrounded Strome coming to Edmonton in a deal that sends Jordan Eberle to New York. Quite frankly, I think that deal is horrible value for the Oilers and should be avoided.
In terms of fair value for Strome, I’d suggest a prospect like Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear and a mid-level pick. Of course, the Islanders likely wouldn’t do that as they are looking for scoring.
Just. Say. No. If the return for Jordan Eberle is Ryan Strome, well let’s just say the Oilers are better off saying ‘no thanks’ and keeping their slumping sniper. Strome is still young and certainly has potential, but he’s struggled mightily the last two years and looks to be plateauing as a player.
His faults, lack of real offensive production, defensive play, and strength, are all real and all combine to make this a faulty player who would be a risky bet for any team. The Oilers are in a window where they can truly compete for a Cup right now and I don’t think they can afford to take risks like this.
Strome might be benefit from a change in scenery, but I don’t think the Oilers should be the team that gives it to him. It is far too risky of a venture if you ask me, and I’m not sure the pros outweigh the cons with this young forward.