Yesterday, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on his first deal of the off-season when he sent Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome. On the face of it, I do not like the deal. It is my belief that the Oilers got the second best player in this trade and forced a net loss in terms of value and talent that simply did not need to occur.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know as much about Strome as I would have liked when the news dropped yesterday afternoon. I’ve watched him play a handful of times at both the AHL and NHL levels, and I wasn’t impressed in any of my viewings. That said, it was a small sample size and came in the last two seasons, where Strome struggled mightily.
My initial reaction to the deal is here, while the off-season targets profile of Strome can be found here.
A New York State Of Mind:
Earlier this week I reached out to B.D. Gallof, a writer who follows the Islanders very closely. My question to him surrounded Ryan Strome, mainly because I had seen the rumors and wanted to learn a lot more about the player. I have to thank Gallof, because he gave a very in-depth scouting report that I’d like to share with you all this morning.
As we know, Strome had a very successful 2014-15 season, breaking out for 50 points and appearing to have emerged as a top-six forward in the NHL. The last two seasons, however, saw Strome’s development take a turn for the worse and saw his production fall to just 28 points in 2015-16, and 30 points this past season.
One of the big reasons for that drop, according to Gallof, was a major lack of confidence. Strome’s relationship with then head coach Jack Capuano also went south, and Gallof believes that “weighed heavily” on his development. A closer look shows that Strome barely saw time with John Tavares during the 2016-17 season.
According to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, Strome saw just 40:56 TOI with Tavares at five-on-five last season. His most common five-on-five linemates? Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier. One was a rookie, while the other is a middle-six forward at best. It wasn’t exactly a lethal scoring line.
Back to the scouting report from Gallof, which discusses the change in the weather after Capuano was fired this past January. Strome was a much better player under Dough Weight, Gallof told me, scoring at a much better clip and looking like a real top-six forward. According to Gallof, Strome appeared to be back on track as a player.
After Capuano was fired, Strome registered 16 points, more than half of his total output for the season. In fact, Strome was close to a .5-point-per-game player after Weight took over. He was certainly better when Capuano went away, which could bode well for his change of scenery.
Gallof calls Strome a player with “good offensive skills and ability”, which is a fit for the Oilers after Eberle was sent packing. Other people I have talked to have told me that Strome has a very good wrist shot (something Peter Chiarelli alluded too) and has a very good one-timer that could benefit him with Connor McDavid.
Interestingly enough, Gallof also told me that he thought Strome would be better off as a center, not a right winger. It would appear that Strome will start on right wing this October in Edmonton, but perhaps a switch back to center could occur as the season rolls on.
Jordan Eberle is a better offensive player than Ryan Strome and will likely produce more in Brooklyn this coming season than Strome will in Edmonton. I believe the Oilers lost this trade based on value, and to me there is a concerning trend developing in that regard with Chiarelli.
That said, Strome appears to be a bet that could benefit greatly from a change of scenery. Islanders’ observers believe he has the talent to be a top-six forward in the NHL, and also believe that Edmonton could very well be the place that his development happens.
His performance after the Islanders fired Capuano is certainly a positive arrow for the player and perhaps gives us a glimmer of hope that Todd McLellan will be able to unlock Strome and he’ll prove to be a very valuable player on a friendly contract this season.
Personally, I would not have made this trade and I believe the Oilers lost it, but Strome has ability and potential, which could make me eat crow at this time next year. I’ll be rooting like hell for Strome and hope he has success.
My talk with Gallof certainly has me feeling a little better about this trade, but only time will tell how the Oilers fared in this one.