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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll Never Know: The Ryan Strome Story

The Oilers closed the disappointing book on Ryan Strome Friday afternoon when they sent him to New York in exchange for Ryan Spooner.

Spooner will bring more speed and offensive upside to the Oilers but, like Strome, he is a player with issues. The book on Spooner is that he plays on the perimeter and struggles defensively. I don’t hate the trade, I don’t love the trade, but this article isn’t about the trade.

It seems like Spooner will begin his Oilers career on the wing alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but this article isn’t about where he fits into the lineup. I am intrigued to see if he eventually gets a crack with Connor McDavid, something Ryan Strome really never had and that my friends is what this article is about.

It doesn’t look good on Peter Chiarelli that just 16 months after the trade the Oilers have already moved on from the only player they got for Jordan Eberle. Not only have they already traded Strome, they traded him without giving him a look alongside the best player in the NHL. Ten different forwards played more with McDavid than Strome did during his time as an Oiler.

I don’t know if it would have worked and now we’ll never know, that’s the issue. I’ve had a number of people tweet me today and say, “He had a chance with McDavid and it never worked.” Those people are wrong. Once again I’m not saying it would have worked I’m saying it’s completely mind boggling that they never even gave it a real look.

When the Oilers opened training camp in 2016-17 Ryan Strome was on the top line with McDavid and Maroon. Strome opened the pre-season with a goal and an assist against the Flames, both points coming on the power-play with Maroon and McDavid.

In just his SECOND pre-season game Strome was moved off of the top line in the third period against Winnipeg. It actually makes me laugh a bit right now because he was replaced by Jesse Puljujarvi; JP would score twice and set McDavid up for another and that was the end of Ryan Strome. He wouldn’t see any more time alongside McDavid.

McLellan said he wanted to send a message to Strome. “In Ryan’s case, it was a message that we sent to him fairly early in the process just so that he gets it out of his system early, I’d rather do that now than do it two or three games into the year and have him confused or wondering what or why.”

That’s right, sending a message to the new guy playing in his second game as an Oiler after he had a goal and an assist in his first game. Strome never stood a chance.

By the time the Oilers reached the final game of the pre-season Draisaitl was alongside McDavid and Strome would end up playing less than 10 minutes. In case you missed it, Strome had a goal and an assist in five periods of pre-season action with McDavid and the coaching staff decided they had seen enough.

The Oilers, despite an ongoing search for players to play with McDavid, would never really give Strome another chance. Since the beginning of last season, the Oilers have played 100 regular season games and Strome was on the ice for 58:25 at five on five with McDavid. Not even close to even a minute per game. He played about six more minutes with the Captain than Pontus Aberg did.

Even Anton Slepyshev (92:04) and Mike Cammalleri (94:03) had more ice-time with McDavid, 30 minutes more.

In the 58:25 he did play with McDavid the underlying numbers were positive. The duo had a CF% of 55.47, better than what Maroon, Draisaitl and Nuge were able to accomplish while playing with McDavid. The pair also dominated the goals for with a 75% share. All of these numbers come from a very limited sample size but unfortunately, that’s all we have to work with. Hell 58:25 over a 100 game stretch is really nothing more than being on the ice together for a bit during line changes every once in a while.

When the Oilers first acquired Strome they talked about wanting him to shoot the puck more from the wing but just a few months later they moved him to the third line and tried to convince him and all of us that he was a centre. I wonder if at any point the Oilers wondered if his lack of production was due to the fact he is not good enough to drive a line, even a third line, on his own down the middle. Ryan Strome is a complementary offensive player; he needs to play with other offensive players to be effective. His 50-point season as a 21-year old playing with Tavares is the perfect example.

So as Strome catches a flight to New York City I’m left wondering if a viable option on McDavid’s wing has come and gone. The answer is, we’ll never really know.

You can’t tell me it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t tell you it would have but I can tell you that they never even gave it a look.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Surprise surprise. People wanted Stroke gone, and now that he is gone they’re crying crocodile tears and want him back again!

    Let’s add him to the list shall we?

    Dubnyk
    Petry
    Schultz
    Eberle
    Strome

    • Odanada

      When you have a poor record in a “hockey town”, this is what happens. The Leafs ran Kessel (amongst others) out of town. Anyone who becomes the Hab captain is just waiting to be under the next bus out of town.
      The Oilers are no different. While we try to remain positive, the reality is that everyone who has put some heart into supporting the Oil has frayed nerves from the DOD. You know what turns that around? Winning.
      Good management would also help – y’know, a plan that’s actually working.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        Throw Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Vancouver in there as well. The Canadian Market is a toxic environment. Hockey is the #1 sport in most Canadian cities, the bucket of pressure from fans and media is overwhelming.

        • btrain

          Exactly! It amounts to a disadvantage in comparison to teams down south. As soon as anything goes wrong in a Canadian market, no matter how minor, panic and toxic negativity is often quick to follow. Players cant go through the normal ebbs and flows of a season/career in Canada like they can on most US teams. As a result you get a carousel of key players, coaches, and GMs chased put of town which disrupts momentum, familiarity & culture.

    • Spydyr

      Dubnyk: Thrown into the starters role too soon, struggled, the team ask a question he was moved. He then received proper coaching and developed.

      Petry: Was a UFA that appeared not to be signing here. Was moved for something, could have signed back here, never did.

      Schultz: Soft player that was thrust inot playing top four minutes. Was way over his head. Traded and played in his proper role of bottom pairing. Had some success.

      Eberle: Another soft player, sealed his fate here when he turned the puck over in a playoff game instead of taking a hit to make a play. defensively weak. Not worth his contract and has had very limited success since his trade.

      Strome: Slow, soft never fit in here was moved for a slightly faster soft player with slightly better offensive stats but may be weaker defensively. Only time will tell.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Dubnyk was the starter in 2012/13. He was 27 – had been drafted 9 years earlier. Generous definition of “rushed”. What sabotaged him was the Oilers keen interest in Cory Schneider and MacT speaking.

        Petry was a UFA because of mismanagement. They lowballed Petry as he headed into UFA and gave Schultz $3.5M one-year “bridge deal”. By the end of his time here he was going to be re-upped for another $3.5M or go into UFA. Pretty crappy options.

        Had they just signed Petry at a reasonable price on a short deal he might still be here.

      • Jason Gregor

        Dear Spyder….Many inaccuracies in your post…

        Dubnyk…was not rushed at all. Played two more years in junior after being drafted 14th overall. Then spent 3 1/2 years in minors.
        At 24 he played 35 games in NHL with a .916sv%. At 25 he played 47 games with a .914. Then at 26 he started 38 of 48 games during lockout with a .921sv%. There was zero rushing. None. They actually developed him fine. MacTavish incorrectly stated they weren’t sure about him after lockout shortened season.

        Petry was traded to Montreal at deadline when he was a pending UFA. He signed in June with Montreal. He was never an actual UFA, so no he couldn’t have re-signed in Edmonton unless he tested UFA waters.

        Schultz was played too soon yes, but he was in third pair for brief time in Pitt. The 18 games after trade and first year they won Cup in 2016.

        In 2017 he led their D with 51 points, played the most total minutes and averaged 20:27/game, 2nd most on team. In playoffs, on way to Cup he led D in points with 13, despite missing four games, and was in top-four. Has been a regular in their top-four since, and Penguins players and coaches say they miss his puck moving now. Has had a lot of success in Pitt.

        Eberle was consistent goal scorer. Very limited success since leaving? Scored 25 goals last season with NYI. While NYI top line was killed at 5×5 Eberle, with rookie Barzal were both + players. He isn’t physical, but claiming overpaid is incorrect since he averages 25 goals every year.

        It is fine to have a differing opinion on players, but suggesting Dubnyk was rushed, Petry could have re-signed, Schultz is 3rd pair in Pittsburgh or Eberle 25 goals and 59 points is limited success is 100% inaccurate.

        • belair

          I remember looking into it before. In Schultz’s second playoff run with the Pens he was still sheltered heavily at evens. IIRC he was either 5th or 6th when it came to Pittsburgh defensemen in terms of EV playing time. He may not be a literal bottom pair D, but that year he certainly wasn’t a go-to Dman for them when they weren’t a player up.

          He’s always been a limited player when it came to his job title. And at the clip he’s being paid, if you don’t have the tools to protect him, you’ve got yourself one hell of a poor investment.

  • MrBung

    I think I have lost count of how many blog entries and comments there have been about rehabbing someone’s offence or career by trying him with McDavid. Hilarious. Which fire hydrant can we plug into McDavids line to patch over how poorly they are doing. Didn’t we see one about Lucic the other day?

  • MrBung

    This is just another example of a poor to mediocre move by Chia. The Oilers are still struggling during McDavids prime years for a reason. An eagle can’t soar if the are surrounded by turkeys.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      I think you use a different metaphor, considering that a) the eagle would probably eat the turkeys and b) it could just flap its own wings to fly.

      Either way, you do make a good point. In the 4 years we’ve had McDavid, he’s only had two “good” wingmen. Maroon and Draisitl. Maybe Nuge. But that’s it.

    • KootenayDan

      McDavid has not hit his prime yet and I am not sure the team is struggling let’s see what happens over the next few weeks. As for Strome he was not fast enough to play with Connor nor physical enough he didn’t deserve being on the top line. The Oilers issues are not up front the D needs to get better.

    • Dubz337

      And here comes mrbung thinking his keyboard warrior tactics will get chia fired, instead of realizing his posts just create more for the rest of us to skim over.

      You are a predictable human pop up ad.

    • Odanada

      Buffalo looked pretty good against the Jets last night. They also have a better record than the Oilers.
      Wouldn’t it reflect horribly on Chia if Eichel got one up on McDavid because the Sabre GM built a better team around him than Chia did Connor?
      The overall Chia-plan looks as downright poor as the upper management that supports it so “patiently.”
      The Strome debacle is just another sign that Chia is making it up as he goes along. Let’s hope Spooner plays inspired hockey.

      • Arfguy

        There’s no doubting that Chiarelli has done a poor job of building a good team around McDavid. I’m not saying this just because of the Hall or Eberle trade. I’m looking at some of the contracts he’s handed out.

        I think Chiarelli does deserve some credit for making some decent to good moves (I really do like the addition of players like Marody, Chiasson, Rieder, and now Koskinen). I honestly do not look down on the moves to bring in Benning, as I do like Benning, or bringing back Kris Russell.

        Chiarelli has made more poor moves than good ones and should be held accountable for them.

  • Sean17

    The whole thing confuses me. Get rid of Eberle because even though he produced offense he was a defensive liability. Bring in Spooner who produces less offense and is a defensive liability. And shoots left instead of right. Yes, I know, we had to get rid of Eberle. But you k ow ebat Eberle did that neither of these 2 guys did/ do? Score goals.

  • OldOilFan

    McD is carrying the puck too much. Why is that a problem? Because he can’t do everything himself…

    i.e. the real problem is that there is no Dman who can skate the puck up ice.

    After 3 years, the Oilers mgmt is STILL “skating around the issue” on this one. PC has traded away a lot of pieces over that time. Zero puck moving Dmen to show for it??

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Also considering where the Oilers have picked in the draft since Chiarelli came on board, which “puck moving D-man” would we have taken? If you’re looking for someone to blame, look to the OBC. They fudged up EVERY draft outside of the 1st round. At least Chiarelli has been able to find SOME talent outside of round 1.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        In all honesty, had the 1-2-3 picks gone the way people expected my choice was to use the #4 on either PLD or Charlie McAvoy. Trade down if desired but those were my choices.

        McAvoy solves the puck moving RHD. PLD solidifies the front lines.

        I understand why hey they would take JP.

  • Heschultzhescores

    What stood out to me in the article was Todd sending a message and then Srome disappearing. Todd also sent JP a message and he too disappeared. Maybe it’s time to send Todd a message. He is damaging players, not improving them.

    • OldOilerFan

      I agree. I scratch my head on the moves the organization makes and I think this is why a lot of posters on this site seem negative a good majority of the time. I don’t miss Eberle, I don’t see him on a lot of highlight reels and his next contract certainly won’t be $6million. But you wonder these trades and then the players brought in appear to be not evaluated across scenarios.

      • OnDaWagon

        If he scores close to 25 goals this year, you are right, his next contract won’t be $6M. It’ll be more. There is such a thing as being paid to score goals, and not get into the dirty areas. The goals still count, right? And, every team is ALWAYS looking for goal scorers.

  • TKB2677

    It’s utterly baffling to me how fans of the Oilers, a supposedly hockey intelligent market, still don’t know what the Eberle trade was about.

    The trade was a salary dump. That’s it. Eberle is a 6 mill 50 pt tops guy. He’s a one dimensional guy who if he doesn’t score does nothing for you. If he was making 4.5 mill like he should, he’d be an Oiler still. But he’s overpaid. Like it or not when you are paying McDavid and Leon the money they are, the Oilers can’t afford to have guys like Eberle who only do one thing and only do it at a OK level. They need bargain guys and Eberle is not a bargain. If you make 6 mill you need to do more than just occasionally score a goal. They traded for Strome because he was half the price, should have been able to score 3/4 of the points and Puljujarvi was supposed to be farther along than he is to cover the rest. It didn’t work.

    When Eberle signs a new deal it will probably start with a 4 which is what he should have been making in the first place.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      @TKB2677

      Another way to look at it is imagine if last year’s 34 points Strome gave us came from Eberle instead. Eberle seemed disinterested at best in the 2017 playoffs. Had Slep and Caggulia found their way into the top 6 in 2018 it might have pushed Eberle into no mans land on this roster so an even lower point total was possible.

      Imagine the headache in moving that $6M now. That’s why i was okay with the Eberle trade

    • puckle-head

      There’s a lot of things wrong here. First of all, yes, it was a salary dump, but it was wasted. They didn’t need to clear cap space last year, and while they replaced Eberle’s contract with a $2.5m one, they turned around and signed a #6 dman for $4m, which is a much worse overpay than Eberle’s since he could at least play on a top line.

      2nd, your stats are wrong. 50 pts tops? Eberle has pretty consistantly scored around the 60pts per season mark, the one exception being the year before when he only managed 51 pts and was traded that summer.

      And finally, you can quibble that Eberle was a little overpaid for a a 60 pt producer, but at the end of the day, he was a 26 year old traded after a down season when they made the playoffs, to clear cap space they didn’t use, because of a bunch of big contracts, not just McDavid’s and Draisitl’s, and also because Chiarelli gives out NMC’s like they were candy on Halloween. And to top it off, they traded him for an underwhelming player that even management themselves was disappointed in, and couldn’t even manage to acquire a draft pick or something. Seriously, if they had even managed to score a 2nd round pick in addition to Strome, we probably wouldn’t be having this argument.

      And finally, yes. Eberle’s next deal should be for less money, which is hardly shrewd analysis. There’s a big difference in value between a 28 yr old player who’s best years are behind him and a 21yr old coming off a breakout season.

  • Van isl Oiler

    Holy bleep! This is a stupid article. Every single player on the team must be given a chance to play with McDavid now I guess. Nothing is fair unless you’ve been given the opportunity to play with McDavid. The opposite should be true, you don’t get to play with the best player in the world unless you’ve earned it. I’m sure Connor appreciates being responsible for resurrecting the career of every washed up has been or never was that Chia Pet acquires from around the league.

    • Slats

      Agreed. Show me a game when the player Strome on ANY line showed he wanted to play in the NHL let alone with McDavid. Or did we hear about how well his off season went last year and that he wanted to be a Top 6 forward? Nope- crickets. This guy plays completely on periphery, not a lot of effort and didn’t use his one gift shoot the puck. He shouldn’t worry about trying to fit in with the Rangers ….he should try and STAY IN THE NHL……expiring contract ba-bye!

  • Soccer Steve

    “It doesn’t look good on Peter Chiarelli…”

    It’s quite obvious the man himself could care less. He needs to be gone yesterday. Just baffling he’s still employed.

    • M22

      Not at all baffling, when you consider whom he’s employed by. In fact, he fits perfectly with the rest of the upper management group, none of whom has a clue about properly building a winning franchise.

      Sadly, I don’t believe Connor McDavid will win a Stanley Cup here. I hope I’m proven wrong, eventually. But when I look at the people in charge, everyone from Chiarelli right on up to D Katz, I’m not filled with ANY confidence, whatsoever. They are what they are – incompetent – and the evidence is undeniable.

  • Beut

    The list of players that TMac has not gotten the best out of seems to be getting ever longer. I seem to remember Todd Nelson and Ralf Kruger getting the most out of players before they were sacked.

  • The future never comes

    Sorry the answer to every struggling forward isn’t McDavid. These players need to find a way to produce on their own. Simply put, we cannot stick 11 forwards on McD’s wing at once.

  • Serious Gord

    Strome had 100 games to demonstrate he had value. That he failed rests largely with him – not the oil.

    That noted, management gets a failing grade on how he was handled – McClelland sent mixed signals – yet again – and seemed incapable of thinking outside the box with Strome and to play /revert to his favourites when they didn’t merit it – something that must be demoralizing to the rest of the roster.

    The team seems plagued with lousy management yet again – what are these new hires doing exactly?

  • Mo-Larr

    RNH, Draisaitl, Brodziak, Marody, Khaira…..all centres who also play the wing. There is no way you can’t have slid JJ or Brodziak into that 3C role for a few games to see the WINGER version of Strome…which is WHY YOU ACQUIRED HIM!!!!!!!

    The cubs are a good example of a team that drafts, develops and trades for positional flexibility, and then USES THE DAMN ABILITY.

    Neilson is right, and that pains me to say immeasurably.

  • Rama Lama

    I think the only guy that cant complain about given a chance is PC……..he has proven he is incapable of making a trade that extracts value from the other team.

    I will give him credit Pontus Aberg is looking like a real player for the Ducks…….sigh.

  • Heschultzhescores

    If we want to abuse McD as a slump buster, then maybe they should have played strome with him prior to trading him to maybe get a level above what he is worth. Use McD’s magic to upvalue someone before trading him. Personally, I just want McD with a line that can skate with him and a finisher. Drai is 1, we need another.

  • GCW

    In his big season, Strome only played 123 minutes 5×5 with Tavares. He played 381 with Brock Nelson.

    He doesn’t need a Tavares. He does need someone who is a shooter, because he is a playmaker, and competent linemates.

  • Fireball

    Couldn’t agree more. Would have loved to see Strome get a chance with McD. The coach obviously must not have seen what the rest of us seen. I think this applies to multiple players. How much has Kass played with McD since the playoffs ? I bet if that continued his cap would look great. How much Has Lucic played with McD in the last year ? I’d bet if he had the chance that contract wouldn’t look so bad a people say it is. How much did JP get to play with McD this year ?? Maybe we wouldn’t be talking another ruined prospect If he had more than a game or a few shifts. After all The Staff was more than willing to sit Ty Rattie after he was cleared for play to have Drake in that spot. Not sure what’s going on there. But I agree if the Coach coached differently or there was a different coach ya never know what he would get out of these guys.

    • Fireball

      I wonder how much where the Coach sees and plays guys has to do with where they are playing today and how they are playing. I wonder if that has influenced trades ?? If the coach isn’t going to put them in a position to succeed I’m guessing the GM would really have no choice but look at other options

      • Fireball

        I’m assuming the Coach also figures JJ or Marody is a better option at centre as the reports are that Spooner is going to play the wing. I wonder how much Strome has affected other players

  • CMG30

    With any luck, Spooner works out. Kind of sounds like they’re still looking for a trigger man for McDavid. Maybe he’s it. OTOH, you traded a 45-50 pt guy who is a natural scorer and we’re still trying to replace that production.

  • GRC

    Dustin….I have no idea why you are so obsessed with an offensively challenged bottom 6 player being not given a chance with McDavid. Is this going to be the rant every time a bottom 6 player gets traded?
    Sometimes I dont know if you are writing/vlogging just for the purposes of inducing a response or if you just let your emotions best the best of you.
    Its not a good look either way.

      • GRC

        As for the trade. Chiarelli knows the player which isnt all that uncommon when a GM makes a deal.
        There is an argument to be made that Spooner was being misused in NY this season. He will be given a great chance to produce (likely top 6 minutes and 2nd unit PP time) in Edmonton.
        The bottom line for me is that Spooner has the potential to help some major issues…2nd PP production and secondary scoring…2 areas Strome didnt have a hope in hell of moving the needle on.
        So now we wait and see how it works out.

  • camdog

    Lucic is averaging 1 even strength point per 10 games played since last years All Star break. If this doesn’t work they’ll need to try and trade Hopkins for Krejci. Desperate times for a GM that has invested so much salary in an aging power forward.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Fun Facts from Hockey Db

    Of the top 32 players in the 2012 NHL entry draft only 7 have not played in the NHL this season. Edmonton drafted or traded for 4 of them. Yakupov, Reinhart, Samuelsson, Moroz. In the top 30 its five players not playing this year. The oilers acquired 3 of them. Ouch .

  • Arfguy

    As much as I wanted Strome to do well and maybe he would have with McDavid, I don’t think he was good or creative enough to play top line minutes. Yes, he was drafted in the first round and yes, he did hit 50 points once with Tavares, but if you look at some of the better wingers in the NHL, a lot of them can and have created scoring opportunities on their own. I’m talking about the likes of Ovechkin, Kessel, Marner, Arvidsson, Benn, so on and so fourth. I hate the idea that you have to put someone on McDavid’s wing to create scoring chances. Why can’t a lot of these players create scoring chances themselves?

    As much as I wanted RNH to succeed with McDavid, watching him play this year on the wing did not re-assure me that he was the right fit. Say what you will about Draisaitl, but he does create a lot of chances on his own when paired with McDavid and McDavid is sometimes the benefactor.

    That’s what the Oilers need. A winger that can create scoring chances on his own, while being on McDavid’s wing. At this point, we do not have many of those. I can say with confidence that Strome wasn’t one, either.