Peter Chiarelli made a bad trade a year ago by trading perennial 50-60 point man Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome.
Why was it bad? Well, the Oilers had hoped that Strome would step up and put up point like Eberle did. On top of that, the cap space cleared was used to sign Kris Russell to a four-year, $4-million deal.
It was a clear downgrade in talent, but the Oilers and their fans should have faith in Ryan Strome.
The change between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference is a vast one — a difference I think many underestimate.
Ryan Strome came to Edmonton with big shoes to fill. Expectations were immediately disproportionate given the player he was expected to replace.
He struggled last year.
In the first four months of the season, he scored 19 points in the teams first 49 games. He played a little over 14 and a half minutes per game.
The last 31 games saw him bank 15 points. His ice-time jumped on average by about a minute and a half. Not a lot better, but a slight improvement.
He ended the season with 34 points in 82 games — his highest total since he put up 50 points in 2014-2015.
It should be noted that Strome was an excellent five-on-five scorer last year putting up 27 of his 34 points at even-strength.
Towards the end of the year I felt Strome was finally getting more comfortable. He seemed to be playing a more solid two-way game and finally started to see some more ice-time.
To me, that shows the Oilers coaching staff began to trust him more and more.
Strome is a restricted free agent this off-season coming off a 2-year, $5-million deal.
When it comes to Strome, the Oilers are still in a very good position. With five years under his belt, he can start to be considered an NHL veteran.
Matt Cane, who annually posts mathematical predictions of what free agents will make, figures that he will be signed to a two-year deal just over $5-million.
This is a very reasonable deal for someone who has struggled in both seasons of his earlier two-year deal.
I for one, wouldn’t shy away from trying to push for a three or four-year deal around the $3-million mark.
I fully believe that he can step up his came and regain the 50-point form that he once topped.
The Oilers need to have faith in Strome. They need to give him ice-time, they need to give him good linemates.
Jason Gregor wrote in March that Strome is a better fit as a third-centre than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and I fully agree.
If the Oilers are smart, they saddle Nugent-Hopkins to Connor McDavid’s hip and let Strome fly as the third centre.