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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What to do with Ryan Strome?

Ryan Strome was one of the major pieces added last summer considering he was the sole return in a trade for Jordan Eberle, and he’s due for a new contract when the season is finished. Needless to say, it will be very interesting to see how the Oilers handle the situation.

After being traded in a one-for-one deal for Jordan Eberle last summer, Ryan Strome has been under the microscope in his first season as an Oiler whether it’s fair or not. I’ll readily admit that I was critical of the trade then and still am now, but that’s not on Strome. It’s not his fault that he was the only return for Eberle, and that the expectations were sky high before he even had a chance to pull an Oilers jersey over his head. Say what you will about Jordan Eberle, but a guy that consistently scores 25 goals per season leaves some pretty big shoes to fill.

I remember some folks thinking that Strome would be a lock to post career highs for goals and points while playing alongside McDavid, but neither of those things are going to happen. We’re 50 games into the season and Strome has only spent 15:25 on the ice with McDavid and his production is what should have been expected based on his history. As of this morning, Strome is on pace for 33 points which puts him in line with his career average, but what we don’t know is what that level of production will mean at contract time or if it means he’ll be trade bait leading up to the deadline.

We all know the trade was a salary dump, but the Oilers clearly expected him to be a contributor and after rumours circulated that they were unhappy with the trade after the fact, I’m wondering how the coming months will play out. Needless to say, what comes next for Ryan Strome will be increasingly interesting to watch as we inch closer towards the summer.

THE OPTIONS…

Nov 7, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Strome (18) plays the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) and goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at his current contract, which is up at the end of this season, Strome will need to be qualified at $3.00 million (hat tip to Pat Olsen for pointing it out) for the Oilers to retain his rights or else he would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Since walking away and getting nothing is not going to happen (right? RIGHT?!) I do wonder how much sense it makes to have to pay his qualifying offer? That’s a lot of money for a 30-35 point guy. Again, there’s no way that Chiarelli will allow Strome to walk away for nothing so we need to look at the angles he might play to try and either A) retain Strome or B) trade him for other assets.

One approach for re-signing him could be to run the same route as what happened with Zack Kassian where they signed him to a one-year contract at a lower rate than what his qualifying offer would have been. After finishing a two-year deal that saw Kassian with a $1.75 million cap hit, he re-upped with the Oilers for the 2016-17 season for a quarter million dollars less than he previously had earned. The gamble paid off for Kass as he had a solid season and was rewarded with a new three-year contract this past summer. Obviously, it was a completely different situation and we all know about Kassian’s personal comeback, but my point is that getting a player signed to something lower than their QO can be done.

And of course, there is always the option to move him at the trade deadline or Draft. I don’t think that will happen but what the hell do I know? Optically, moving Strome would be a tough sell for Chia unless he was part of a package that landed a superior player. It’s not necessarily that Strome was only here for a year, or that he’s some fan favourite, that would make moving him a challenge but the fact of who he was traded for would bring a lot of heat on the organization if they walked away so quickly. Besides, in a one-for-one type scenario, Strome wouldn’t fetch much in return (unless Chiarelli was the one answering the phone) and I don’t see how moving him for mid-round draft picks will help this team win games now.

SO WHAT TO DO?

Sep 30, 2017; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) blocks a shot on net by Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Strome (18) during the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Unless they are miles apart on a new contract, I would bet that Ryan Strome will be an Oiler next season and that Chiarelli will be looking to run the same route as he did with Zack Kassian. We all know Kass was battling with some personal issues but he had the willingness to fight tooth and nail to stay in the NHL even if it meant taking less money, and I wonder if Ryan Strome is in a similar position albeit different. After signing this contract in September of 2016, Strome has never been able to get close to the career-high 50 points that likely landed him the deal.

Will he be willing to take a pay cut in order to stay with the Oilers, a team that is looking at a laundry list of cap issues going forward, or will he want to try and cash in while he can? Has he even done enough to cash in, anyway? If Chiarelli can get Strome signed to a one or two-year deal worth $2.25 million or less then there could still be a fit here, but if Strome wants a raise then it will be interesting to see how this thing plays out. Strome does have arbitration rights this summer if he feels like the Oilers are lowballing him on his next deal, but I’m struggling to find reasons for why he would even want to go there — the comparables would not be kind.

In the end, Ryan Strome can still be an effective bottom-six player, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the Oilers need to make sure that he’s paid accordingly. If he heads into next season making the same money as Mark Letestu then no one will look at Ryan Strome’s contract or production and think that he’s overpaid, but it will be up to him whether or not he’s looking to grind like that. Chances are, he’s going to have to take a pay cut regardless of where he ends up and I wonder if that will be here. Regardless of what happens, Ryan Strome’s story is far from over in Edmonton and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

STROME’S SEASON SO FAR

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2017-2018 50 7 13 20 2 19 2 3 0 0 1 0 88 8
NHL Career 308 52 94 146 7 142 10 30 1 1 6 0 602 8.6

 

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    We should have know the Oilers were in trouble when the plan was for everyone to play better than the year before. I’m in construction; thats like saying we’re going to make up time on the schedule by working harder…it doesn’t work like that.

    • toprightcorner

      Forget about hoping they would play better than last year, all they had to do was play the same as last year. This year, only Nuge and Nurse have played better and Larsson and McDavid have played the same. Everyone else has played worse and no fan, GM or coach would have predicted that.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Chiarelli has mad this team much worse. We lack team speed. The BIGGEST Concern is we have almost no fwd depth prospects either.
      I don’t see EDM improving much with this type of team in todays NHL.

  • The Whispererer

    I noticed that Kyrou is on TSN trade bait list. Maybe we could get him for Maroon if he agrees to a new contract with St. Louis. That would be an exceptional return for the Oilers.

    • Leon McNugent

      I’d think Maroon + a conditional pick (4th if he resigns, 2nd if he doesn’t or if STL gets eliminated first round) would be a good deal for both. Would also prefer a RW closer to making the team next year – Kapanen or Ho-Sang would seem like fits, with a similar package going the other way.

      Preferred option for Strome would be a 2-year deal for 4.5M total. I don’t think he’d take less than 3M on a one year deal… he’d likely want to get out of this pressure cooker if the Oilers didn’t qualify him/low balled him. Still some upside with him as a third line C/RW.

    • toprightcorner

      Kyrou would be a great addition, I would also look at WPG as they are looking to add a top 6 winger, potentially to play with Shiefele and Maroon is cheap and has success with high end players. The Jets also have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL.
      Vasalainen – LW/RW
      Brendan Lemieux – 30 games – 12-16-38 94 PIMS, 210 lbs – plays like his dad, Claude Lemieux
      Appleton – RC – 46 Games – 16-27-43 – AHL Rookie
      Roslovic – RC – 32 Games – 15-20-35 – AHL (compared to Joe Pavalski)
      Spacek – RW/RC – 40 games 8-13-21 – AHL Rookie
      Poolman – RD 13 Games – 1-5-6 AHL Rookie. 15 games 1-0-1, +3 NHL Rookie

      WPG has a plethora of right shot prospects knocking on the door of the NHL that they don’t have room for so Maroon could likely land one, even if it requires a 3rd or prospect as a sweetner.

      • Leon McNugent

        Roslovic stands out to me there. Would love it if they could somehow get Comrie back too… Jets will need to move him eventually with Hellebuyck locked in as the starter for a while. Wonder what it would take to pull that off. Surely not something Chia could do

      • Big Nuggets

        I was also thinking now is the time to trade for one of Winnipeg’s prospects. They have a glut and something will have to give. Maroon alone is probably not enough but a deal could be had.

  • RJ

    Fact: Strome is a third-line winger. Fact: No one outside of Chia and his pets in the media thought otherwise. 30 points for a bottom-six winger is decent production.

    Is it Strome’s fault that Chia oversold his abilities to Edmonton, or got back too little for Eberle? Not really.

  • Anton CP

    Strome is basically the middle 6, it will be a tough sell for Strome if he is looking for a big payday considering that he is far short of the expectation of his talent.

  • madjam

    Difference between Sather and Chia building around generational talent is Sather did it around speed and youth with truculence later to round it out as well as veterans . Chia did it with truculence first , which only helped us one season .

  • cmandev77

    What about trading Strome to Dallas for a player like Jason Dickinson? That should be a trade that would be good for both teams. Dickinson is caught in a depth issue in Dallas playing behind Seguin, Faksa and Spezza and can be a very good 3c or 4c. He is just coming off of his ELC and would fit the Oilers well. He is big, defensively sound and has always been able to score in the AHL. He is pretty fast too. His contract will be cheap too as he hasn’t seen much NHL time but all scouts agree he is ready for the NHL.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I can see Chia doing what Pittsburgh did with Shultz. Strome is closer to 2mil than 3mil on a 1 year deal.

    If Chia does trade Maroon for a 2nd or a prospect of similar value, that’s a damn steal in my eyes because away from 97, Maroon doesn’t do much of anything. He isn’t worth 4+mil unless he’s on 97s left side.

  • toprightcorner

    Best thing to do is keep Strome. If the Oilers don’t qualify him, the most he gets as a FA is $1.75-$2 mill on a 1 year deal. If the Oilers can sign him to a $2.25 for 1 or even 2 years, he has a chance to come back and play well.

    He could still be an 18-20 goal scorer if the team played better and for a 3C, that is great production.

  • toprightcorner

    With almost every Oiler having a down season, I can’t help but wonder if this has hampered Stromes success as an Oiler. If the team was playing to the level they did last year, He could be having a much more productive season.

    For that reason alone, they should sign him at less his qualifying offer at around $2.25 mill, as he has the ability to rebound and score 18-20 goals

  • The Whispererer

    Lowetide has been trumpeting Josh Leivo since last summer and now Leivo has requested a trade.
    Toronto is looking for a depth center and/or something on defense.
    Oilers have Letestu, Malone, Gryba, Fayne, Simpson, Lowe. Should be able to work something out.