One of the more intriguing story lines this offseason has been what the Rangers are doing with Ryan Strome. The Rangers gave Strome a qualifying offer at the very last second and confirmed they were/are looking to trade him. Strome has filed for arbitration, and there is a very real possibility Strome actually makes it there. But would the Rangers actually walk away from Ryan Strome?
The magic number for arbitration is $4.54 million. If Strome gets over that award in arbitration, the Rangers can walk away and make Strome a free agent. Much like how all signs are pointing to Strome actually making it to arbitration (or a trade), there’s a non-zero percent chance that Strome gets over $4.54 million.
Walking Away Risks
Strome wouldn’t be the first player the Rangers walk away from. The Rangers walked away from Nik Zherdev in 2009 after his $3.9 million award. The only risk here is not getting anything in return for walking away. However given the information we know, that the Rangers are trying to trade him, it won’t be for lack of effort.
Walking away from Strome for nothing also creates another roster hole. At the very least, we know he clicks with Artemi Panarin. By walking away, another center spot needs filling. While the Rangers appear to be content letting the kids fight for that spot, it creates injury depth risks.
Benefits of Walking Away
As mentioned above, roster space is the obvious benefit. It allows the Rangers to get a more in depth look at Filip Chytil in the 2C role, and giving them answers on his long-term role withe organization. Ditto on Brett Howden.
The other benefit is cap flexibility. Let’s assume Strome gets the $4.7 million projected by Evolving-Hockey on his one-year deal for this exercise. That would leave the Rangers with $6 million in cap space before accounting for the bonus overage and Brendan Lemieux. That’s a lot of words to say Strome at $4.7 million leaves the Rangers with almost no cap flexibility.
It would be nice if the Rangers were able to get something for Strome. However all signs point to him not being with the Rangers next season. Whether that means they walk away from Ryan Strome, we shall see.