In a trade that hardly set the NHL world alive due to the respective struggles of the two players involved, the New York Rangers decided to bolster their roster by acquiring former top five draft pick, Ryan Strome.
With the rebuild in full swing and the upcoming trade deadline very much the focus for the front office, New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton opted to send Ryan Spooner to the struggling Edmonton Oilers for Strome in a straight swap on November 16th, 2018.
Both players had endured offensive slumps with Spooner putting up just two points (one goal, one assist) in 16 games this season.
That followed what was a promising start to his career at Maddison Square Garden after being part of the deal that saw Rick Nash traded to the Boston Bruins on February 25th, 2018 – Spooner had 4 goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 20 games played during the latter stages of the 2017-18 season.
The picture wasn’t much brighter for Strome either, with the 25-year-old center also tallying a goal and an assist for two points in 18 games.
However, a return to the Big Apple has revitalized Strome’s faltering career. After being selected fifth overall in the 2011 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Strome lit up his sophomore season with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) to back up the lofty expectations he entered the league with.
Those high hopes have seemed a tad optimistic, though, with a gradual decrease in production eventually seeing the forward traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2017 for Jordan Eberle, another former first round pick.
Since being traded to the Rangers, Strome has seen a dramatic boost to his offensive numbers having contributed 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 50 games played, including five points on the Power Play.
His shooting percentage has also increased spectacularly, rising from a meager 3.3 percent with the Oilers this season to the 19.7 percent he’s currently averaging for the Rangers.
In all, Strome and the New York Rangers have proved to be a perfect fit so far.
Strome for the future?
They say that a change of scenery can work wonders and that is certainly proving the case for Strome who, once touted as a potential NHL star in the making, has seen his career hit the skids in the last couple of years.
But, with time still very much on his side at 25 years of age, Strome still has plenty of room to grow and develop and that can only be good news for the Rangers going forward.
New York will have control of the Canadian native through the 2020-21 season at a minimum with a cap hit of $3,100,000, which represents good value for a player predominately plying his trade lower down the line-up.
Strome will be an arbitration eligible RFA after next season, meaning the Rangers have the option of offering him either an extension or a bridge deal.
With Kevin Hayes now a Winnipeg Jet following his trade deadline switch for Brendan Lemieux, a 2019 first-round draft pick and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2022 draft, Strome has been given more responsibility as of late, averaging above 15 minutes of ice time in his last five games, including 19:44 against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night and 16:46 in the 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, during which he potted two goals and claimed an assist.
Strome, after playing 17 of his first 22 games for the Rangers on the wing, should continue to get more looks as his team’s number two center behind star forward Mika Zibanejad who has elevated his own game to a whole new level this year with 27 goals and 38 assists for 65 points in 69 games played, already smashing his previous career best when it comes to points in the process.
And, should Strome continue to provide the offensive punch that he has so far during his second stint in the Big Apple, then the New York Rangers could well enter the 2019-20 season with a deadly one-two punch at center.
With just 13 games of the regular season remaining, Strome has plenty of opportunities to keep on getting his groove back under the watchful eye of Head Coach David Quinn ahead of what could be a breakout year for both him and the Rangers in 2019-20.
There is, of course, also the possibility that the New York Rangers could look to cash in on Strome should he continue to put up respectable offensive numbers.
As already mentioned, Strome at 25-years-old still has his prime years ahead of him and he seems to be thriving under Quinn with that relationship only set to flourish even more in the coming weeks and months when the pair will have more time during the off season to work on systems.
With his contract up in 2020 Strome has the opportunity to either earn a big payday with the Rangers or indeed somewhere else should the Blueshirts decide against giving the forward a new contract.
Should that be the case then Strome could be flipped for more picks and young prospects to add to the already hefty pile of assets accumulated since this rebuild was kicked into action.
It would make sense at this point, however, to at least consider locking Strome down to a longer-term deal given his potential, the impact he has made already and the active role he has taken in helping to nurture the young prospects around him but, either way, the New York Rangers appear to be in a winning position with Ryan Strome whatever they decide to do in the future.