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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Waiting on Ryan

Like the Edmonton Oilers as a group, newcomer Ryan Strome hasn’t had the kind of start to this season he was hoping for. While I’m reasonably confident the Oilers are capable of bouncing back from a 2-5-0 start that has many up in arms despite better outings of late, I’m slightly less sure about Strome.

That’s not necessarily a knock on Strome, who arrived from the New York Islanders in a trade for Jordan Eberle last June 22. It’s more a case of me not having seen much of him during the four seasons he spent with the Islanders before the trade here. So far, we haven’t seen a lot to suggest that the “fresh start” players like to talk about when they get moved down the road has provided any real bump in his performance.

In that regard, the Strome for Eberle swap has been pretty much a saw-off with only early returns in. Through his first seven games with the Oilers, Strome has managed just 1-1-2. That’s one goal better than Eberle, who is 0-4-4, after eight games with the Isles. I’m guessing that goose egg in the goal column has the critics who wanted Eberle gone nodding knowingly. “See, I told you . . .”

That bit of schadenfreude doesn’t, however, do the Oilers or Strome any good. Strome was expected to pick up some of the scoring slack in Eberle’s absence in Edmonton’s top six – despite all the criticism, Eberle scored 20 goals last season – but so far he hasn’t managed to deliver much, be it in looks alongside Connor McDavid or elsewhere. Strome is not alone in that regard.

THE BOOK ON STROME

Oct 4, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Strome (18) takes the puck to the net during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Strome, 24, selected fifth overall from the Niagara Ice Dogs by the Islanders in the 2011 Entry Draft, had what many considered a breakout season with New York in 2014-15 with 17-33-50 in 81 games. Good, not great, numbers. Strome couldn’t replicate that in the next two seasons. That made him available, and with the Oilers open to moving Eberle and his contract, the deal was made and we heard the fresh start talk bit from both ends of the trade. We’ve yet to see it, although it’s too early to say we won’t.

“One thing Ebs did do is he shot the puck a lot and we’re going to challenge Strome to do the same,” coach Todd McLellan said in pre-season. “We’ve got to get his shot totals up a little bit. With his skill level and the players he plays with he’s got to get the puck there a lot more and that will be a challenge for him . . . he’ll probably see the puck a lot and he’s got to put himself in those positions. Sometimes, players don’t shoot for a reason. We’ve got to figure that out and make sure he’s willing to shoot.”

Strome is shooting more early this season by about one shot per game. His 114 shots in 69 games (1.65) with the Islanders last season ranked 279th in the NHL. Through seven games with the Oilers, he’s taken 18 shots (2.57). At the same time, his overall shooting percentage has dropped. He’s at 5.6 right now after scoring at an 8.6 clip with the Islanders. Neither number makes opposing goaltenders sweat. That’s OK. And it is early.

Of course, we tend to forget that around here with the start the Oilers have had, especially since they’ve managed just 14 goals. That total ranks 30th in the league. That stat falls on many shoulders, not just Strome. Leon Draisaitl has missed four games. Milan Lucic has one goal. McDavid scored his three goals in the first game of the season. He’s sitting at eight points. You won’t win often with two goals a game, especially with a PK that stinks.

THE WAY I SEE IT

We’re seven games into the season and we don’t yet know where everybody fits, which is to be expected. That’s been compounded by the absence of Draisaitl, of that there is no question. When it all comes out in the wash, and that won’t happen until the 20-game mark the way I see it, we’ll have a far better idea where the Oilers are at and where all the pieces go, including Strome.

Simply put, we can’t say with any certainty where the Oilers or Strome are at yet – even if that’s what we’re prone to do around here, for better or worse. I think Strome can be the 50-point player he was that one season on Long Island. Then again, I didn’t foresee a 2-5-0 start by the Oilers, so what do I know? It’ll take time to find out where we stand on both counts, as much as that grates on a fan base that got a sniff last season after a decade of zippity-do-da.

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    • fasteddy

      Getting anything back without having to eat salary was a good deal. We can talk about his 20 goals, but bottom line is he didn’t seem anything like a playoff-type player. Great hands, great natural talent, but just doesn’t seem to translate when the play gets tight.

      • Shameless Plugger

        Numbers are great and they certainly tell a part of the story.

        But what I’m most concerned with when it comes to Strome, is the fact that it looks like he’s skating in cement. The game isn’t getting any slower and his acquisition has made it harder to “keep up.

        The Oilers are heavier but they are much slower. If you haven’t noticed a serious lack in team speed you haven’t been paying attention. I think it’s worth noting. As worthy as numbers.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        So that would make him about 40 points in a full season.
        Y1 – 37 games 7g 17a – 24p
        Y2 – 81 games 17g 33 – 50p
        Y3 – 71 games 8g 20a – 28p
        Y4 – 61 games 13g 17a – 30p

        Except for one year, that makes him about 30 points a year. Unfortunately, he’s been a minus player in recent years. I get the salary dump, but that’s all it really was. No point in justifying it as anything else.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      I hate my phone.

      Strome was as good a bet as any for secondary scoring. I still feel he can give you thirty points this season. It’s a new coach, new franchise and sky-high expectations. He needs to adjust.

      But with a healthy squad and Yams continuing to show well you’ll get a few wins, and players like Strome need that to gain individual confidence. Additionally, confidence breeds confidence: if McDavid scores on one shift and Strome’s line shuts it down defensively on the next, or gets a few scorning chances, players bond over that. They buy in to the systems more. Then they play better.

      Sometimes the ball is slow to get rolling, but when it does it’s hard to stop.

      With all that said, you need another top four d man. I don’t know how or where, but it’s a major hole for you guys. It’s like Bartkowski with us: he just can’t get it out of the zone with any consistency so he tanks whatever forward line is in front of him.

  • They pretty much had to trade Eberle to pay Drai and McDavid… It sucks though, for all Eberle’s warts at least they had someone on the 2nd line who could create some offense.

    I think Strome is better then he’s showing so far but at the end of the day the Oilers lose the trade, seems like they always do when they deal with Garth Snow, he’s fleeced the Oilers pretty good since Chiarelli got hired

    • Oilerchild77

      Then again, they’ve only made two trades. The first was legitimately bad, but you could easily argue that PC was acting on bad advice from previous management as he had just got there. The second trade is still yet to be determined, but they had to shed salary, so losing the trade was really inevitable.

      • fasteddy

        By that logic the previous management should also be credited with getting Talbot…(don’t get me wrong; I was absolutely shocked when Bob Greene said the team hadn’t seen Griff play in the American League….that’s horrendous)

    • TruthHurts98

      I have the NHL package and watch some of the Islanders games. Eberle is a liability on the ice this season and is already a -4. His shot wouldn’t penetrate a wet paper bag anymore and he’s getting hit more. Takes him out of the game, I barely notice him on the ice. Strome is slow and I’m not impressed with him yet… but that goes for most Oilers so far. PC basically dumped the contract. Wish someone different came back. The Islanders aren’t impressed with Eberle so far and there is no way he’s scoring 20 goals this year.

      • Oilerchild77

        It was two teams who each had a player that needed a fresh start somewhere else. Personslly, I’m ok with Strome. He wasn’t really meant for the top 6 and it’s fairly apparent that he’s being groomed for the 3C spot anyway.

        Let’s compare: Strome is bigger, stronger, just as good a skater, can one time the puck, can play center, is better defensively, and comes at less than half the cap hit.

        So when you consider all of that, how did Chiarelli lose this trade?

  • 24% body fat

    I said it when he signed it, that contract would be the end of him. Not saying we should have traded or kept him here, but rushing out and giving contracts like this will bite you in the ass all the time. Why is it that Yzerman can get elite players signed on value contracts after the break out, but we give out big money to Nuge, Eberle, Russel, Lucic, etc. Take the time and negotiate, especially on the Eberle and Russel ones, these still blow my mind.

  • Dean S

    Oilers got fleeced from Garth Snow again. Strome plays a timid perimeter game. I have no idea why Peter made this trade, I understand he wanted to get 6M off the books. Guess had to do that with the 6M Boat Anchor contract (#27) for 7 more years.

    • Oilerchild77

      Oops. I posted this eatlier, but applies to your comment better:

      It was two teams who each had a player that needed a fresh start somewhere else. Personslly, I’m ok with Strome. He wasn’t really meant for the top 6 and it’s fairly apparent that he’s being groomed for the 3C spot anyway.

      Let’s compare: Strome is bigger, stronger, just as good a skater, can one time the puck, can play center, is better defensively, and comes at less than half the cap hit.

      So when you consider all of that, how did Chiarelli lose this trade?

      • Shameless Plugger

        I was with you untill you said just as good a skater. Strome is slower than cold molasses. Ebs wasn’t a burner but he’d blow the doors off of Ryan Slowme.

    • Slipknot 8

      Not an Eberle fan, in fact, I still hold him and the Refs responsible for the playoff loss to the Ducks.
      However, +/- during a time when your team was so bad that the average save percentage was that of a AHL level goalie and no capable defensmen is really hard to definitely say that he was responsible for goals against, he did have good +/- last year when the Oilers had goaltending and when Dubnyk was the goalie……I think there might be a correlation to the teams, the goalie and the defense that had a factor in Eberle’s +/- Not just Eberle himself.

  • Ed Munton

    How can Oiler fans whinge about Strome like it’s a surprise!!… Chia is the guy who traded Seguin, Kessel, Rakell, Wheeler, Hall and Justin Schultz ffs, is it any surprise the Oil are sinking like the AB oil reserves with this GM making moves… to be fair to Chia though, let’s not forget YOU all wanted Ebs run out of town after his playoff debacle, as you did Hall and Yak… now YOU are crying in your Molson Dry’s that you have no wingers. You just can’t make this stuff up.

    Brutal, clueless hockey fans on here, no wonder Wayne took so long to be (handsomely rewarded) ‘persuaded’ to come back into the fold!

  • Rugbypig

    So . . . . . . . . a “FIGHT” happens between 2 of the most popular Oilers in one of the most popular bars in Edmonton and no-one and I mean NO-ONE see’s it.
    I mean it’s 2017 correct??
    Everyone and his grandmother has a cell phone with a camera . . . . . . and no: pictures, video, tweets etc.
    You really believe anyone is buying your pablum??
    Rumor mongering at it’s most pathetic . . . . . off-topic of course.

  • tileguy

    So if the Oil can go 8and5, that will bring the record up to .500 at the 20 game mark and out of a playoff position. I wonder what you opinion will be then as to where we are at.

  • Anton CP

    How often was Eberle played on bottom 6 for his entire tenure in Edmonton? How often was Strome being shuffled within the middle 6? He was moved around from C to RW depends on status of other players and how McLellan wants to shake things up. This love affair towards Eberle has to stop at somewhere because Eberle is no longer what the team need going forward.

  • OldOilFan

    Strome wasn’t brought here to be better than Ebs, just bigger and cheaper and shoots R. So, he hasn’t disappointed on that basis. Meanwhile, the TEAM overall appears less talented this year.

    I dread we are gonna see another season with long stretches like last year: where the Oilers try to grind out low scoring games for 1 or 2 points… ugh. If they were a TEAM of grinders, then it wouldn’t seem so bad. There are only 3 [potential] scorers who look like they can “light it up” (McD, Drai, Yam). The rest of the skaters aren’t lookin’ so good ):

  • ScottV

    I’m not a big fan of McL and his tendency to want guys to shoot from anywhere and everywhere. OK an exaggeration to illustrate a point, but low percentage shooting is an invitation to turn the puck over. I would rather see more team 5 man structure to drive pucks wide and low to establish longer o zone possession. Learn to work the puck through cycling, puck protection, use of the points – better than what has admittedly been somewhat improved upon. Take the puck to the net or shoot it, when some good possession teamwork opens up better grade opportunities.

    We wonder why we don’t have secondary scoring? Some of the guys need structure to support it.

    The McL blender process is also a concern. Things don’t always click immediately. Guys need time to figure each other out. To play to each others strengths and tendencies. Sometimes the wait is worth it, but we never see these possibilities. Strome gets brought in to maybe play on McD’s wing, or as a 3c, but – really doesn’t get much of a look in those spots. Yeah – I agree, probably isnt there but McL is awfully quick to pull the lever off of things. Strome comes here with a bit of hype to take on a big role and a couple of questionable exhibition games flanking for McD and he’s outta there. Now he’s considered a bust. Pretty tough on the guy.

  • madjam

    When are we going to bring up Bear , as he is +6 and has 2G and 2A =4 points in 5 games .? Seems like we could use some backend fire power as well as Power Play .

  • Roberto

    Things should be fine because of McDavid, Drai, Talbot…. however, Chia didn’t have the greatest summer. Strome is kinda meh, and I can’t see the Oil resigning him for the 3 plus million he makes this season. Jokinen is same. I like him but he’s looking slow too. It’s not really the individual moves chia made this summer, rather his work as a whole…. I question the POULIOT buyout a bit…. was he that bad to have around the team where they couldn’t pay him this season(and next?) Then let him walk rather than having a cap penalty for 4 years? It doesn’t seem like the Oil improved whatsoever this summer, and with the expansion draft the opportunity was there as Edm was in a great position with all the young guys automatically protected. At least the dominant Keegan Lowe is available for call up.

    • Big Nuggets

      I also didnt like the Pouliot buy-out. I think he would have been moveable after this season and the money saved this year is not being utilized anyway. also he is a good penalty killer. 4th line and PK this season or if MacLlellan really doesnt like him send him to baersfield for a season. I like Chia’s willingness to make moves but his judgement is questionable.

  • TrueBlue

    Halloween Officially came early as whats to be a nightmare of a season.
    Once Drai is healthy what lines would you roll with?? I really want to see Mcdavid and Drai split up for more a more balanced attack.
    Maroon – McDavid – Yamo
    Lucic – Drai – Nuge
    Jokinen – Strome – Pulijarvi
    Kassian -Letestu – Parkarinin

  • Leaking5w-30

    I got a call from Lowe last week that clarified the hole d.o.d. Thing. He said that the acronym stood for “department of defense” and that he believed that every team he put together was a contender

  • IRONman

    PC has to bring in some goal scores. The D is suffering. The sweds are good. Nurse good. The rest no. I know Bear and Jones are coming. Benning needs some time in AHL to develop.