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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating the Strome for Eberle trade

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is now the longest tenured Edmonton Oilers. General Manager Peter Chiarelli made another bold summer trade today sending Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for winger Ryan Strome. The Oilers save $3.5 million in cap space this season from this deal, and Chiarelli is hoping a change of scenery will boost Strome’s offence.

Eberle is much more of a proven scorer at this point. Strome has 45-81-126 in 245 NHL games, while Eberle has 165-217-382 in 507 games.

This trade was made knowing the Oilers needs to free up some up cap space to re-sign Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl needs a new deal this summer, while McDavid’s new deals begins in 2018. The deal also could have been done to free up some money to sign a defenseman.

Eberle struggled offensively last season, but he still finished third on the Oilers with 51 points. He actually improved his defensive play, but his struggles in the postseason, mainly in the Anaheim series, raised the ire of many in Oilersnation. I don’t believe the GM and head coach Todd McLellan, changed their view of Eberle dramatically based on 13 playoff games.

The reality is the Oilers offence will be led by McDavid and Draisaitl for the next few seasons. The rest will be complementary offense, which is very important and Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins need to produce, while one or two of Strome, Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepshev need to become a consistent 40-50 point player. Ideally you’d like one of them to emerge as a regular 50-point guy, but to start I’d look at a realistic 40+ points.

Strome’s best year was his second pro season when he tallied 17-33-50 in 81 games in 2014/2015. He played 1247 minutes, split between 1025 at EV, 172 on the PP and 50 on the PK.

He scored 41 of his 50 points at EV. He had 1-7-8 playing mainly on the second PP unit.

He played 939 minutes at 5×5 and his most common forward linemates were Anders Lee (463), Brock Nelson (376), Frans Nielson (311), Nikolai Kulemin (128), Mikhail Grabovski (127) and John Tavares (124). His production with Tavares wasn’t much better per minute than it was with Lee and Nelson. It was a bit higher, but Strome had success playing with a variety of players. He had a very good CF of 53.3% and he finished the season +23. I don’t love that +/-, but when he was on the ice the Islanders were out shooting and outscoring the opposition by a good margin.

It is important to note he didn’t face top pairing defenders very much, Tavares took the toughest matchups, and I mention that because in Edmonton the first line RW spot is now wide open. Todd McLellan could choose to play Draisaitl with McDavid, but long-term the plan is to have them as a dangerous one-two punch down the middle, so eventually, the Oilers will need two solid right wingers.

Strome turns 24 on July 11th. He has more experience than Puljujarvi, Slepyshev or Caggiula, if they try him on RW, and Strome will likely be given numerous chances to prove himself on the right side of either McDavid or Draisaitl. He couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. It is up to him to take advantage of it.

CAN STROME FINISH?

Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders right wing Ryan Strome (18) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Eberle had some weaknesses to his game, most NHL players do, but he was an excellent goal scorer. Despite what some considered a “down year” he still had 20 goals and 51 points. He had the lowest SH% of his career, 9.8, and I have no doubt he can bounce back and score 25 goals for the Islanders.

When looking at this trade we have to consider salary cap. It is a factor, whether we like it or not, and with huge deals coming for Draisaitl and McDavid, most people expected the Oilers would have to move Eberle for a less proven scorer.

Eberle has a career 13.4SH%, while Strome is at 8.8%. Strome’s best offensive came when he had his highest shot total, which isn’t a coincidence in my eyes. Strome had 179 shots on goal in 2014/2015 q when he scored 17 goals and 50 points. He was around the puck more.

This past season Strome had 13-17-30 in 69 games, and he did have his highest SH% of his career at 11.9, but he only had 114 shots. He played 1008 minutes split between 822 at EV, 183 on the PP and two minutes on the PK. He averaged 14:36/game. He switched between the second and third lines. Of his 794 EV minutes he played the most with Nelson, 343, then Anthony Beauvillier (245), Shane Prince (216), Andrew Ladd (181), Nikolai Kulemin (107) and Jason Chimera (103). He had a gaudy 45.4 CF%.

His role, or should I say opportunity out of training camp, will likely change in Edmonton, but he will need to earn it. He should be elated at the opportunity in front of him in Edmonton, but so far in his career, he has yet to prove he can be a finisher. Playing with skilled players helps, but to be successful he needs to show he can think the game similar to Draisaitl and McDavid and then prove he has the skill to finish off plays. The latter is much more difficult than people think.

I’ve read many evaluations of Eberle’s game, and much of them focused on what he didn’t do well and actually undervalued what he did do well, which was score goals. His 165 goals are the 24th most in the entire NHL since he debuted in 2010/2011. I don’t expect Strome to score that often, and frankly, the Oilers won’t need him to because they have Draisaitl and McDavid, but Chiarelli and Strome are hoping a change of scenery will jump-start Strome’s career.

In junior over three years with Niagara of the OHL, Strome produced 97-171-268 in 164 games. He’s never been a dominant goal scorer, so it would be unrealistic to expect him to become one with the Oilers, but he’s also never played regularly with players as skilled as McDavid and Draisaitl.

If Strome can become a regular 20-goal scorer the Oilers would be thrilled, but he’s only scored 20 goals in his past 140 games over the past two seasons.

I’d be surprised if he produced as much as Eberle had, but due to his salary he doesn’t need to right away.

This trade was a mix of freeing up cap space and hoping a change of scenery will allow Strome to evolve offensively.

PARTING SHOTS…

  • Strome is in Chicago to watch his younger brother Matthew get drafted. Ryan was drafted 5th overall in 2011, brother Dylan was taken 3rd overall in 2015 and Matt is rated to go late in the first or in the second round depending on who you read.
  • There is a lot of chatter the Oilers are close to re-signing Kris Russell. Let’s say they sign Russell to a $4 million cap hit. He and Strome would combine for $6.5 million next season, compared to Eberle’s $6 million. This is likely part of Chiarelli’s assessment when making this move. Whether it is Russell or another D-man, he made this move to free up space to sign a D-man. Of course, if Strome has a big year then his cap hit will go up from $2.5 million.
  • What do Oilers fans think of Russell+Strome for Eberle?
  • This trade is more than just about the players. Today, there is no doubt Eberle is more proven and productive. Salary cap played a major role and Chiarelli needs to ensure he uses the cap space wisely.
  • Some have asked if Strome can play centre. He has, but not much since his rookie season. His first year he played 37 NHL game and took 374 faceoffs. The next year he took 319 draws in 81 games, then only 95 faceoffs in 71 games in 2016 and this past year in 69 games he took 344 faceoffs. His career average in faceoffs is 44.1%. He is a natural centre prior to coming to the NHL, but in the NHL he hasn’t played down the middle regularly.

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  • Spydyr

    Well that did not take long. What was it a couple hours after the trade window reopened? Sure looks like this was a done deal a while ago.

    Please give Nuge a chance on Connor’s wing. I have been saying this since last fall and I truly believe Nuge can play the Kurri role with Connor. Doing the centres job down low in the defensive zone allowing Connor to break out of the zone quickly. Trade for a true third line centre.

    • Derian Hatcher

      All he has to do is work hard, show some grit, be willing to go to the net, stick up for teammates, play hard in the tough areas and compete, pretty well the opposite of the player he was traded for.
      In nature, wolves prey on the weak…play weak hockey in Edmonton and you’ll hear about it.

    • Hemmercules

      I know you are probably a troll but I still can’t see how anyone thinks the Hall trade was a bad deal? The Oilers plucked one of NJ’s best defensemen and made the playoffs where Larsson was a beast the whole time. NJ proceeded to drop 14 points in the standings with Hall regressing a little bit.

      In todays NHL cap space is a major commodity. Player salaries are high and the cap isn’t rising a whole bunch every year. I’m sure they could have scooped a pick or something if they retained some of Eberles money so it doesn’t surprise me it was straight across. If it takes Hall to get Larsson then I dont think Eberle alone gets you Hamonic.

  • Boom76

    Love this trade for a variety of reasons:
    – cap room
    – Strome is a big body and can play bigger than Eberle ever showed he could. This will be appreciated in the first round next year
    – Strome scored 95+ and 105+ pts in junior. He has hands. Who knows what tapping in McJesus and Drai seeing-eye-passes to him could translate into
    – I had Strome in my hockey pool as a late round sleeper when he scored 50 pts. He has potential to play a great game. This is a great deal.

    • Spydyr

      The team is better today. I look at it this way. Even if Strome manages two points in the playoffs after two series next spring but ends up +2 the team is 8 goals better. That would have meant a second round victory this year. Then who know how far they could of went.

      Again bottom line the team is better with this trade before even taking into account the cap savings.

      • btrain

        I see some positives for sure in this deal but saying the team is currently better is flat out untrue. We just picked up a younger, less proven, slightly taller, but same weight version of Sam Gagner.

        The true value is the cap savings so we can afford another player and cut Strome lose if need be for more McDavid dollars next year. But until another shoe drops the Oilers are worse replacing Eberle with Strome looking at it in isolation. If this allows them to sign a second pairing D, then the Oil may be better off.

    • fisherprice

      Junior points? Really? He’s 23 and played over 200+ games. There’s a pretty clear view of what Ryan Strome brings as an NHL player and it’s not “top 6 forward.” I think he can play, definitely, but you’re dreaming if you think he’s morphing into a way better scorer this far into his career. This is a downgrade to save cap space.

      • Nanook

        two different players. Tavares is more a do it yourself guy, McDavid is the ultimate set up machine. Tavares I find hard to read, He will pass but I find he holds on to it to long at times, with McD you just need to learn where to be and he will find you. I think Maroon is the best example, play hard and go to the net with stick down and just be McD’s pylon to bounce the puck in off of. If he figures it out there no reason he cant get 50-60 points. Ebs was just to soft to drive the net for Connor.

  • fisherprice

    So let’s get this straight. Chiarelli admitted the defense as currently structured is not good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup. I agree with this assessment. So, instead of addressing the defense in any meaningful way, he’s going to bring back the exact same D-Core, with one of the top D-men missing potentially half the season.

    I accepted that Eberle was going to be traded a long while ago, but he was probably the best single trading chip the Oilers had to bring in a legitimate top 4 defenceman. So Chiarelli traded Eberle for a forward at the same position who puts up about 20-25 less points than Eberle per season.

    I don’t really understand how the Oilers are supposed to be better off this year by having less scoring and the exact same defense as last year. Chiarelli admitted the current structure of the team wasn’t good enough for a cup and he actively made the team worse today. I don’t see how you can really put a good shine on today’s action for Chiarelli. I think it’s tipped the scales for me and I actively think he’s a bad General Manager.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Dan Rosen tweeted:

    To say Ryan Strome is excited about his opportunity in EDM would be a massive understatement. Says he’s got an extra jump in his step now.

    This whole “players being excited to come here” thing is gonna take some getting used to.

  • Heschultzhescores

    The league got too fast and too big for Ebbs. He had never seen the playoffs, and that got even faster and tougher…the NHL isn’t Ebbs game…he should play on the big ice in Europe, he’d do well there. Loved him when he originally came here, but don’t miss him one bit now. He has regressed.

  • Ron Burgundyz

    “Despite what some considered a “down year” he still had 20 goals and 51 points.”

    3 goals were in the last game, which was meaningless. 2 were empty netters. 25% of his goal production should therefore be disregarded. And most importantly he no longer fit on this team at that salary. Cap space and a guy who has the potential to produce on a similar level to Ebs, with superior effort, means this was a big win for the Oil.

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      Regular season stats are regular season stats, you can’t cherry pick which you think are relevant. If Eberle had gone scoreless in his last 10 games, people would be complaining about it, regardless of whether the oilers had clinched a spot or not. There is no such thing as a meaningless point.

      I don’t mind counting empty net goals differently, but they are far from worthless. A nice EN takes the wind right out of a team’s sails and turns a 3 minute butthole clencher at the end of the game into a breezy cooldown.

      • Not a First Tier Fan

        Ebs WAS better defensively last year … but it was a pretty low bar. There were a couple practice pylons that were better defensively in just about the same way.

    • Rock11

      I don’t understand the complaint about the empty net goals. You know what they say about a player? They say that the coach trusted him to be out on the ice in the last minutes of a close game to ensure the win. Of course those that hate Ebs cant think that way or else they would have to admit he was a more trusted defensive player than want to believe. The oilers are quite frankly a worse team today than they were yesterday. This should not be debateable. That could change as the summer wears on but today we are further from the cup than yesterday.

  • Oiler Al

    Once again Chiarelli gets taken to the cleaners!! Eberle is a top 6 player, Strome is at best a third line plugger. Surely NYI should have added a 2 nd rounder to the deal. I know its a cap move, but it plays for one year only, then Strome is up for a resign., If he did this to make room for Russell, BIG MISTAKE!

    • Hemmercules

      Strome will be RFA so the team has some control over him still, its not like he’s going UFA and they can lose him outright. Trading a 6mil player for a 3mil one and not retaining any money is the added bonus in my opinion. They might have been able to retain 1.5 mil and get a draft pick in return but whats the point?

      They had room for Russel without this deal. Now they can add another guy and Russel if they choose.

  • Keepyourstickontheice

    When Hall went, Chiarelli had a replacement in the works and rolled it out right after. Makes me wonder if Spencer Foo has confirmed he is coming here or if there is another trade lurking in the wings.

  • Muddy

    He just traded 12 Million for 2.5 million, I think I’m pretty elated about that just in terms of cap. Also CRAZY stat but did you know Strome has scored just as many goals in the playoffs for the Oilers as Eberle? 0.0

  • OilersDynasty

    Couple (interesting) items:
    1. It has come down to (so far) Eberle and Barzal for Ryan Strome.
    2. Oilers now have 4 of the top 19 picks from the 2011 draft:
    – Nuge @ 1
    – Larsson @ 4
    – Strome @ 5
    – Klef @ 19

  • That's My Point

    Strome had 3 goals and 8 points in 15 playoff games. Eberle 0 goals and 2 points in 13 playoff games. If the Oilers had Strome in the playoffs this year they would have gone to the 3rd round.

    • btrain

      This is based on small sample sizes for both. I don’t mind Strome but trying to convince yourself that he is an upgrade over Eberle offensively in anyway is setting yourself up for disappointment. Eberle may have got his worst playoff performance out of the way Strome may have had his best out of the way. With that few of games you never really know.

  • bazmagoo

    I like the deal, both players needed a fresh start. For whatever reason Jordan didn’t have it in the playoffs, and I’m firm in my opinion that our team would have been better with him in the press box the final 3 games. Hard to bring him back into the dressing room when he was our weakest playoff player, even weaker than Pouliot which is really saying something.

    Good opportunity for Strome, lets hope he takes it!

  • RJ

    Lighthouse Hockey is an Islanders blog.

    The common opinion of the trade was that the Oilers lost the trade since the Oilers gave up a first line RW for a third-liner with upside.

    Yes they get cap space. I don’t mind Russell as a short-term option but I don’t see the value in a multi-year deal for him.

    • ed from edmonton

      I don’t think too many people understand the Oiler’s situation and if thus trade makes the Oil better or worse. And such is the fallicy of trying to call a winner or loser in a trade.

    • BubbaZanetti

      All the Jersey bloggers / sports guys said the same thing when the Larson for Hall trade went down.
      How Chiarelli got fleeced, and how the Devils won the trade hands down.
      But now, most of those same people have changed their tune, and now the trade isn’t so lopsided.
      This one will be no different.

  • Bills Bills

    Strome has more attributes that compliment the team that Chia is trying to build. In that sense, Strome will improve this team. Not to mention cap space. So now there is another tool to improve this team. Chia has one job. Make this the best team it can be. Today he inproved the Oilers by making them tougher to play against.

    Getting the better player does not mean you won the trade. Ask the New Jersey Devils, who for lack of a better term, sucked last year. Why? Still couldn’t score and couldn’t keep the puck out of their own net.

    • RJ

      We’ll see when we watch this season, but the islanders’ fans noted that they were similar players with similar weaknesses (below average offensively and lacks grit).

      He’s younger and cheaper. And the Oilers get additional cap space. Sure they already had more than 20 million in cap space but now they have even more.

  • The Whispererer

    Until the passage of time gives us the benefit of hindsight, the accepted axiom is that the team that gets the better player is the perceived winner of the trade. That being said, i can accept that this trade had to be made and it is not an unreasonable one. What i have difficulty accepting is all the glee being expressed about the newfound CAP wealth and how we can now hit free agency, etc, in a search for a top 6 RW, a top 4 RD and maybe another 3C. (As an aside, people seem to have forgotten that Caggiula ‘s normal position in college was Center.)
    Anyway, a peek at the updated CapFriendly site shows us with about $23,961,000 in Cap room for the coming season. That number does not include provision for performance bonus clauses totalling $5.05 million ( McDavid $2.85, Nurse $0.80, Benning $0.30, Slepyshev $0.60, Cagguila $0.425). It also does not include a single dollar for new contracts for Draisaitl, Kassian or a 14th forward-maybe Pitlick ? It is easy to foresee $10 million total for those 3. If all the bonuses are included ( and i believe they have to be counted to be Cap compliant at the beginning of the season ) as well as the 3 new contracts, we are left with roughly $9 million. This number includes $0 for Jesse P. whose Cap hit with bonuses is $3.425. It also does not include anything for Russell or for any 6th and 7th defensemen. If Jesse makes the team (and Chiarelli said in interview today that he expects Jesse to be on the opening night roster) it will be difficult to fill out the defense roster with AHL defenders, let alone go hunting in free agency.
    I hate being the buzz-killer, but can we please tone down the unrealistic expectations ?

  • The Whispererer

    looking forward to the summer of 2018 when McDavid’s new contract will kick in, the following player contracts will expire: Maroon and Letestu (UFA); Strome, Nurse, Benning, Slepyshev, Cagguila, Pakarinen, Brossoit and Ellis (RFA).

  • ed from edmonton

    A trade of either one of the overpaid 6M dollar guys (RNH or Ebs) within the next 12 months was an absolute guarantee and the longer PC took to pull the trigger the lower the return would be. There in no doubt that OIl management at this point value centers more than wingers and Ebs was the likely choice even if the return might be lower. Also please consider that Ebs was not a top 6 forward for the Oil by the end of last year. Was bottom 6 and 2nd PP unit by the end of the year.

    • btrain

      Yet his point production still suggests top 6! It’s fine to like the deal but why we have to devalue Eberle to justify it is disappointing. Most consistent scorer the Oil have had over the last 10 years and still getting dragged through the mud post trade.

      • Randaman

        Ebs got too comfortable with his fat contract. Hall did the same but had much more raw talent. Nobody is dragging Ebs through the mud as you say. Ebs played soft at the most crucial time. He needed a change of scenery to give him a kick in the ass!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Jason, there are rumors that McDavid is looking for $14 million per year. I mean, the kid is worth every penny, but wouldn’t that severely hamper the organization’s ability to build a consistent winner?

    • Mitch92

      It would be ok if it were just Connor but with Drai looking for $ and term too will Connor’s price tag as the best player in the game in his prime raise Drai’s asking price? Normally a player of Drai’s quality might sign for anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 million on a bridge deal. That is not going to seem reasonable if he sees Connor getting four times that much on his second deal. Also don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past made with Eberle, Nuge and what’s his face.

  • madjam

    Ryan brings more size , truculence and speed than Jordan had for us . He also plays a dual role on offence (center and wing) Thus , this trade might work out well and Strome being elevated to play an important offensive roll with Connor and/or Leon might see him hit the 30 goal figure this upcoming season . Strome is at the age in NHL (4-5 years in league) seasons where most players are their most productive . His young age fits better than Eberle’s did . Seems like he could be a fine fit at a decent price with an excellent chance he only gets better as the year unfolds .

    • madjam

      If a truculent player like Maroon can score 27 goals , then Ryan could possibly meet or break that as an Oiler due to his speed and truculence . I’ll pencil him in for 35 .

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Eberle scored goals in 14 of 95 games this year.

    Strome scored goals in 12 of 69 games this year.

    Ebs has developed into a 20-25G scorer and 50-60pt player. Playing defense seems to have brought his totals down as well.

    If strome can hit 15G/40pts, ill be happy. I think the 3.5M in saved cap can bring in a player who can put up at least 5G/10pts to replace Ebs production while giving us more depth.

    Vrbata should be cheap at his age and he scored 20G /55pts this year. Even Marleau had 27G/46pts and is still very quick.

    We can have more depth and production with 6M in 2 players VS 6M into just Eberle.

  • toprightcorner

    $3.5 mill saved means they can sign Justin Williams, Vrbata or Sharp for 2 years at RW and still have money left over. Or they can add a center like Bonino or out it towards Hanzal. Oilers can have Strom and Williams/Vrbata as top 6 RW that could combine for over 45 goals for less than they paid Eberle. That is a huge win. By then, JP will definitely be ready for top 6 after being sheltered on the 3rd line.

    This moves has nothing to do with Eberle, it has to do with paying $6 mill for him. The Oilers would have McDavid, Draisaitl, Lucic, Nuge and Eberle all making $6 mill or more, thats not possible. We should expect Nuge to be traded next year as well becaue McDavid, Draisaitl and Lucic could make a combined $25 mill.

    I like the trade, not just for the cap hit, but McDavid knows Strome and I believe Strome could score 25 goals with McDavid. Strome has played mostly 3rd line the past 2 seasons and even in his career year, he didn’t play much with Taveres.

  • McJedi

    Glad Eberle is gone. Very talented, decent guy by all accounts, but doesn’t have that compete level players need to be successful in the post season. Tough to win with guys like that. I remember watching him when he played Midget AAA, it was the same thing. He knew he was the most talented guy there and he didn’t develop that extra gear. I think the Oilers got a fair deal here. Cap room is currency, can’t ignore that 3.5M in savings. That’s Kris Russell. Good work POHO.

  • nuge2drai

    Oilers are at 51 million allocated to the cap after the Eberle trade.

    That leaves the team with 24 million to spend.

    Resign Drai and Russell.. we should have plenty of room for a couple Vets on expensive one year contracts like Marleau and Thornton.

    Either way Chia has put this team in a great cap situation. Looking forward to Fayne and Pouliot coming off the books in the near future.

  • madjam

    You get the feeling this trade is going to turn out just as well as the Larsson one did . By mid season Oiler fans will probably praise Chia for winning the Eberle trade . Oilers might nickname new found sniper Ryan “the Lion ” Strome . Time to get excited about our new addition .

  • Anton CP

    Even if Strome can only produce of 75%~80% of Eberle that trimming 3.5m cap is already huge. Fayne will be gone soon and that’s another 3.6m off the book. Now if Chiarelli can find someone to take Pouliot off his hand then he will still has tons of cap room left even after re-sign both Draisaitl and McDavid. Now, who will take Nuge at 6m cap hit? That is one of the toughest to move.