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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Year in Review: Despite the cost of acquisition, Ryan Strome played to expectations

This is one part of a player-by-player Year in Review series we’ll be doing over the next couple months as we look back on the 2017-18 Edmonton Oilers season. 

2017-18 Edmonton Oilers No. 18: Ryan Strome

GP: 82, G: 13, A: 21, PTS: 34

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Being a former fifth-overall pick who scored at a prolific rate in the OHL acquired in a one-for-one deal in exchange for Jordan Eberle is going to create lofty expectations. That was the story of Ryan Strome last season.

When you consider his draft pedigree and the All-Star he was traded for, Strome was very underwhelming last season. But when you consider what Strome had been for the New York Islanders in the previous two seasons before he was dealt, his performance in Edmonton perfectly matched what realistic expectations should have been.

Strome put up 34 points in 82 games last season, good for a 0.41 point-per-game clip. Over his 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons with the Islanders, Strome scored 58 points in 140 games, good for — you guessed it! — 0.41 point-per-game clip! So as underwhelming as 34 points in 82 games seems to be, it’s really what should have been expected from Strome in his age 24 season given what he had done previously.

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The one wrench in that projection, though, is Strome’s apparent breakout year in 2014-15. The Islanders were good that season. They finished with a 47-28-7 record and scored the third-most goals in the league. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo were dynamite together, Frans Nielsen anchored a great shutdown line, and, right in the middle of it, was n effective second line with Strome, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson.

I think that 50-point season in 2014-15 led to the heightened expectations for Strome last year. It’s difficult to say what the cause of Strome’s collapse from that apparent breakout season was, but, after what he did in 2015-16 and 2016-17, it’s pretty clear who he is as a player. Despite it being a somewhat underwhelming return for a player like Jordan Eberle — who scored 25 goals with the Islanders last year — he can still be a serviceable player for the Oilers moving forward. The key is putting him in a role to thrive and letting go of the expectations attached to his draft pedigree and who he was traded for.

Nov 7, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) plays the puck against Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I think the Oilers might have expected something a little different from Strome when they got him. Given the fact he was acquired one-for-one in a deal for the team’s top-scoring right winger and the organization didn’t add a replacement right winger in free agency over the off-season, it’s reasonable to assume they expected Strome to play a big role in replacing Eberle’ offence.

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After last season, though, I think we can safely say that Strome isn’t going to be that player. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Strome can still be a valuable player to the Oilers so long as he’s put in the right situation.

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Of all forwards on the Oilers last season, Strome bounced around in more different roles and situations than probably anybody else. He spent time on the right wing with Leon Draisaitl (193:43), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (105:04), and Connor McDavid (56:16), and as a centre with just about every winger you could imagine, like JJ Khaira (263:16), Jesse Puljujarvi (237:55), Milan Lucic (216:19), Drake Caggiula (206:49), and Mike Cammalleri (174:40). It’s pretty easy to see why Strome had a tough time getting into a rhythm and finding a role on the team.

Todd (McLellan) mixes up the lines here, which is a good thing, but at the same time, if the team is struggling and there are new guys, it’s tough to get into a little bit of a rhythm… I feel like now I have a valued role on the team. More than any season in the NHL, I’ve really got to play my true position for the last half of the year here, taken a step up in the leadership role on the penalty kill, I can chip in on the power play here and there. I’ve started to carve out a little niche here.” Source.

One place Strome thrived last year was later on in the season when him and JJ Khaira were paired up on the team’s third line. Strome and Khaira as a pair played 263:16 even strength minutes together and had a very good shot on goal differential of 55.8 per cent and a solid goal differential split right down the middle.

As I talked about when I wrote about Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers need to be better when Connor McDavid is off the ice in order to be successful. Strome, though not the consistent 20-goal scorer Eberle was or even the 50-point player he appeared to be in his breakout season in 2014-15, can help the team do that. So long as Strome plays in a role he can thrive in, which is the team’s third centre with good, checking wingers like Khaira, he can help the team.


  • Hemmercules

    Eberles value was low after that terrible playoff performance but Chia should have gotten a pick or a prospect along with Stome in that trade. I guess NY sold the fact that cap space was the sweetener in the deal. Thats the way I saw it anyway. Strome was then expected by many to be Eberle pt. 2 in the offence category but that was just never going to happen. Still a decent player, put him where he belongs in the lineup and he should be fine.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Similar to Larsson (with respect to Hall), Strome’s play deserves to be evaluated based on his own merits, with regard to Eberle and acquisition cost.

    As indicated, the offensive production from Strome was in line with his recent history. To some/many that was a bit disappointing as there was talk about his offence spiking and him playing with McDavid – that never came to fruition.

    Strome settled in to a solid 3C and PK role in the second half of the season and I believe his offensive contribution is a bit under-stated as I think he showed great vision in the offensive zone and consistently made higher end passes that, unfortunately, were not capitalized on by his linemates.

    As an aside, in about 50 minutes with McDavid and almost 200 minutes with Draisaitl, the numbers were quite sparkling. He had great shot, possession and, most importantly, goal share metrics with both those centers. With Leon, the numbers are very good, a 60% goal share (and Leon is below 50% generally without McDavid and was at 47% without Strome).

    I think the organization sees Strome as a 3C now, however, if we could find some cover at 3C (Khaira one day maybe), Strome at 1/2 RW really should be explored more.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Didnt you project Khaira as the 13th forward not to many articles back. Now you say placed with a good winger like Khaira, which would be considered the third line as that is Stromes spot?

  • CMG30

    You’re absolutely right that you cannot hold the value paid to aquire a player against him. Strome IS preforming in line with reasonable expectations based on his past performance. However, this is the 3rd example of a trade that the GM should have been fired for making. Poking holes in your top 6 to fill bottom 6 positions is not a viable way to run a team.

    • HOCKEY83

      What else could the oil have done. Keeping Hall and Eberle was something the rest of the league knew Edmonton couldn’t afford to do. they had em by the short and curlies

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Is Strome Eberle,no. Is Strome going to put up points like Eberle,maybe. The problem I have with Strome is it took him half a season to really get going. The pproblem I see with Strome is can he keep up and even pace all season? Last year he seemed awdfully slow and at the first half of the year it was painful to watch, he did improve the last half of the season, the Oil though need him to be more consistent all year along with a lot of other players. I am hoping that maybe that was a gelling with linemates thing that Strome needed for success that he attained in the latter half of the season, foot speed though is his Achilles heal and is it going to be better than last year. I hope TM gets lines going and gives them time to gel, there was too much throwing them in the blender even when those lines were starting to have success, TM just felt the line wasn’t too his liking. Lets hope Strome can do what he did in the latter half this whole season coming up, because the Oil need everyone to be a lot better outside of McDavid

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Strome is a below average skater on a team that desperately needs more speed to compete with the top teams. How many times were we simply beaten to the puck on dump in’s or along the boards. We could hardly break out of our own end at times. It was hard to watch.

  • Bills Bills

    Strome had his best season playing right wing on what would have been NYI second line. It was reasonable to expect TM to try that position for him. The fact that it hasn’t worked out in that position isn’t necessarily mean they didn’t get what they expected. Because I am sure the reason they traded Eberle is because he was a soft, one dimensional player who was allergic to the corners and had zero back checking ability. He could score goals but when that aspect of his game does away he is nothing but a passenger.

    Strome is a decent possession player that is capable at both ends of the ice. He has a more balanced game with potential upside of a 50 point player. The truth is we need a young capable solid third line center more than we need a player who has worse production when playing with CMD.

  • Gravis82

    No he didn’t. You are seriously telling me that they traded Eberle for Strome and then expected Strome to get 30 points?

    Come on man.

    Only possible way you could make that case is because after season 1 they realized they messed up and lowered those expectations . Which is not in any way a good thing. That is an indictment on management, and yet you don’t mention that.

    I feel that you come up with a story you want to tell write it, and then cut the numbers in a way to make them fit. There are advanced stats all over in this peice, but what new information do they help us uncover? Next time, Use the numbers to tell us a story we don’t alteady know.

    • crabman

      @Gravis82,

      I felt the same way you did about the author deciding on a narrative and looking for numbers to support it.
      He suggests we don’t let the Strome for Eberle trade influence the way we look at Strome’s season but yesterday the same author suggests Draisaitl’s season was a disappointment based on his cap hit. He seems to pick and choose which factors we should consider when evaluating players and it doesn’t seem consistent at all.

        • crabman

          @TigerUnderGlass,

          seems pretty hypocritical to say Draisaitl should be judged by his cap hit and a 25 goal 70 point season with a .90pts/game was a disappointment one day. Then the next day say we shouldn’t take into consideration the cost of the trade to bring in Strome here and talk about how good he was with his 13 goals and 34 points.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Completely agree with you, Strome as your 3rd line centre with Khaira and Puljujarvi can be an effective line. If Strome could put up around 15-25-40, which I think is possible with PP time, we should be happy.

  • The Immortal

    So now we’re justifying mediocrity? Lets not forget how much pp time lil’ Ryan got etc… 3rd line centers generally are the guys that kill penalties and wear on the opposition by using their size and speed to hit and intimidate the opponents…traits that strome is void of..

    Sorry but i just can’t justify paying a periphery tiny player 3 + million per year for 2 years and rationalize how he’s making us a harder team to compete against?

    And with regards to another article, if tiny Yammy gets more ice time/opportunity than jp then there’s a serious issue with our coaching staff…still….

  • Ron Burgundyz

    Strome wasn’t the only return – we got $3MM in cap space. I see people downplaying that, but had that space not been obtained Chia would be forced this summer to fire sale someone like, say, Eberle. And forget signing free agents.

    Yes, Ebs for Strome straight up isn’t great (although I think Strome will crack 40 pts and push for 50 pts this year). But Ebs for Strome, Reider and Brodziak is quite good.

  • TKB2677

    When the Eberle for Strome trade was made I knew that there was no way that Strome would outscore Eberle. They are 2 different players. While I always want more in a trade, I knew part of the return was cap space. With that in mind, I felt that if Strome could pick up 3/4 of what Eberle score plus contribute in other areas like being better defensively, maybe kill some penalties, the trade wouldn’t be that bad. It took Strome a little longer to settle in which I think cost him a few goals and points so Strome was just shy of meeting my scoring expectation but he did contribute in other areas that Eberle would never do. So I still think the trade isn’t that bad.

    I could easily see Strome now that he seems to know his role and is confident and comfortable with it pushing 40 pts this year while being a 3rd line center and playing the PK and some PP time. With Tavares gone, all the attention will be on Barzal. I see Barzal taking a big dip and as a result, Eberle taking a big dip in production as well. I could see Eberle dropping to 50 pts or lower and being a deadline addition for a team for not much.

  • He was way over-hyped in junior, as are his brothers, by the Toronto Media Monster that believes any player from the GTA is going to be a superstar. He is at best a 3rd line player on a weak team and a 4th liner on a good team. He might be good trade bait to a team that has bought into the hype.

  • Abagofpucks

    But hes a better overall player than ebs and he fills our need for a 3rd line centre, I have lowered my expectations of strome but now think he can be a 40 to 45 pt player which by todays standards is still good . And you can say what you want but im still glad ebs is not here and well see what ebs the nyi have now without tavares .

    • HOCKEY83

      Ebs was given 3 less minutes per game of ice time from his highest production years in Edmonton on the island and still got 59 points and was a +5
      Strome was given a minute less per game and had 34 points and was a -4 but ya he’s a better all around player. I think Ebs has found a home in NYI and will take a pay cut to stay there. There’s a ton of great young talent coming up. He’s probably loving it there.

  • IPeeOil

    Technically…….
    We used that spare change to sign Russel to term. So it’s kinda like we traded Ebs for Strome and Kris. Swapped a 6 million proven player for two bums now costing us 7.5 million.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Another great example of Chiarelli mismanaging the salary cap.
    Sign Ryan Strome to a 3.1M/yr contract….
    Now we dont have any cap space to sign one of our cornerstone D-men to a long term 7-8 yr contract. WTH didn’t he lock up Darnell Nurse 1st, and then worry about Strome. Brutal…

  • Big Nuggets

    Hmm, Strome and Khaira had good numbers together. I think Khaira might be our best winger not including Drai or Nuge. Unless Puljujarvi takes a big leap forward or Yam is ready it might be Khaira Drai Rieder on the 2nd line. Lucic might get past his mental block too, and I’m sure he will get a look with Drai before Khaira does.

  • camdog

    If Eberle is an “All Star” why is there no talk out of New York about an extension? They have the money. I’m guessing he gets moved at the deadline for a draft pick.