Rangers facing difficult decision with Ryan Strome

First things first – I think it’s time I eat my hat about Ryan Strome. Last year the numbers showed he was mostly a product of Artemi Panarin, but this year he picked up his game and has proven himself as a legitimate 2C on the Rangers. The potential was always there, and perhaps he just needed that elite player and a defensive coach to round out his game. But with success comes questions. What are the Rangers plans for Ryan Strome and his future in New York?

Production without Panarin

Strome, who again has established himself as a legit 2C, has one more year on his deal at $4.5 million. Given his production, that’s a major bargain. His 12-24-36 line is simply great, with just 2-12-14 of that on the powerplay. That means he’s producing more at even strength, which is a big aspect of his statistical turnaround.

The difference in defensive play is in stark contrast to last season, and the key is that he is putting it together both with and without Panarin.

WOWY’s are a little noisy, but what this shows is Strome generally sits where all the lines originate. What we want to focus on are the blue boxes, which are also around the same area. This shows Strome produces with whomever he plays with. Another key are the red boxes, which are almost all to the left of Strome. This indicates that players are generally performing worse without Strome than with him.

Now again, these are a little noisy, since there are a ton of other factors at play here. But it’s still a useful tool to show Strome isn’t just a product of Panarin and isn’t smoke and mirrors. He’s a legitimate 2C.

Can he keep it up?

This is the $64,000 question. While a short term extension did make sense last offseason, his production has blown his current deal out of the water. At 27 already, and 29 when he will need a new contract, the question is whether or not a late bloomer can be an outlier in the aging curve. At age 29 is when we really begin seeing a noticeable decline in most players. But most players don’t have a huge level up like Strome did at age 27. It’s tough to gauge.

What we do know is the Rangers didn’t see him in their long term plans as recently as last October. He wasn’t given a qualifying offer initially, and Jeff Gorton acknowledged a potential trade was the cause of the delay. 

The concern with Strome is that, as Rob points out, he is filled with fluctuating performance. This season is very clearly a career year for Strome, his second in a row quite honestly. Any kind of long-term extension comes with a clear risk of not just declining performance, but fluctuations and streakiness.

To play Devil’s Advocate here, most of Rob’s data comes from seasons in which Strome was in Edmonton, which is when he cratered. But even then, we saw peaks and valleys. It’s tough to get a good feel on Strome. Will he be the player he was in Edmonton on his next deal? Or will he be more of a PA Parenteau, continuing this kind of production well into his thirties?

“Sell High”?

I don’t like the phrase “sell high” because it implies players are like the stocks. You buy low and sell high based on production. That’s not the case in the NHL. Players are known entities, and most NHL General Managers are aware of these risks with Strome. The question will be whether or not a GM would want to trade for Strome.

Now there are many cases for the Rangers to hold on to Strome, specifically that dollar-to-production value he has at the moment. Quite frankly, there aren’t many centers who produce more than Strome at such a low cost. Cheap production wins championships, and given how Strome has played over the past two years, he’d be a key piece.

But timing matters. The Rangers aren’t competing this year, not realistically. They should be competing next year, and a few more career years may propel them further than most of us thought. Can Strome be a part of that? Absolutely.

But can Strome also be a key piece in a deal for a cheaper center with more potential? Can the Rangers swing another Brassard for Zibanejad type deal, using Strome as the center piece? That’s also a possibility. Especially when you throw in COVID related financial constraints on many owners. 

No Rush Needed

The good thing for Jeff Gorton is that he doesn’t need to rush a decision. Ryan Strome’s future with the Rangers may not see an end until next season, or even a few more seasons down the line. But he’s also not a bad GM, he will listen to offers on Strome. The Rangers already have an idea of what Strome’s value is, and what his future with the team is. If an offer exceeds that value, he will be gone. If not, he will stay.

While his future with the Rangers may be a tough call, we can all at least enjoy what Ryan Strome is doing on the ice. He’s also shown to be a good voice in the locker room and in interviews. There’s value in that on such a young team as well.

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  • Agree with you here. I’ve also noticed he’s not been taking stupid penalties or for that matter penalties at all. I think that discipline is improving his overall game. He’s a tough one to figure out. They can wait to act, but there’s no easy answer.

    • SalMerc….you are correct. Who knows if healthy, Zib wants to sign here or not. Resign Strome 5 years, to include next year, without a nmc/ntc clause and he will be a bargain.

  • Do not forget that both centers….Danault and JE could be available…..Both fit the bill…

    • Hey Pal!!!! the one decent source I have is saying Sabers want Chytil, Kakko, Nils Lundqvist , 2021 1st , 2022 2nd and Strome for Eichel and a B level prospect

      We countered with Strome , Chytil , Gauthier, Zach Jones, 2021 1st and a conditional 2022 3rd

      I wouldnt do their ask and not sure they take our counter offer either.

      Eichel in my mind has always been a pipe dream.

      • I wouldn’t do either of those ewls. The first one gets you laughed out of the room the 2nd while it almost works for me talent wise, it makes the Rangers a worse team..

        We are trying to strengthen our center position. Not make it worse. Giving up our 2c and 3c for someone who’s basically the same production wise as the 2c we are giving up makes no sense. Especially when our new 3c would be someone who probably should be in the AHL(howden or rooney)

      • Really don’t want to trade Jones.
        He is drawing serious comparisons as a LD Adam Fox.
        Although, I get that the Rangers don’t have open spots for all of their D prospects like Schneider, Robertson, Lundqvist
        Eichel has basically quit on the Sabres. Will he prosper in NYC?

        • I wouldn’t go that far with regards to Jones. Always getting better, the straight line skating isn’t great. Isn’t bad, just isn’t great.

  • We will trade Strome over the summer in a package for Eichel. We are not taking $10m from Buffalo and only sending prospects and picks. Salary has to go the other way and part of that will be Strome.

  • Maybe the most important part of Strome is the personality of his mother. Remember her last year on the mother’s trip? She led the room and (tongue in cheek) maybe she was what kept Ryan with the team. He has blossomed this year and if a real true 2C then maybe we don’t need to trade for Eichel and fill out the roster from within with smaller additions as needed

  • Is Jack going to produce at a level that is worth $5.5M MORE than Strome? I don’t see it. That difference is Strome plus a very good roster player- meaning we could afford to pay upcoming extensions and not gut the team. I’m a fan of JE, but not worth the investment.

    • Eichel is Trouba 2.0. He is highly overated for the money he is making. Whoever wants this trade must have read too many NY Post articles.

        • I know you were joking. I was not. I would not take Eichel and give away a “market price” in return for him. He is not $10 million player. The same way Trouba is not $8 million player.

  • So, to get Eichel, we have to part with several young prospects, picks and guys who have been able to thrive in a very difficult environment.

    We will then have the following:

    Bread – $11,642,857 until 2026
    Kreider – $6,500,000 until 2027
    Trouba – $8,000,000 until 2026
    Eichel – 10,000,000 until 2026

    that is 36mm for 4 guys…

    What will Zib earn? 8mm – 9mm?

    that is 44m.

    What about Fox, what is he going to be worth?

    if Trouba is worth 8mm, then Fox is worth 12mm

    that is around 50mm for 6 players…smells like a winning formula to me.

    • and what you will pay Schesterkin, Laf, Kaapo, Buch, Kravs? I was against Ponarin signing but he surely worth every penny. Who wants Eichel? Hwat has he done to get such attention?

  • Until they address the center position, I don’t think he can go anywhere. We’re only vaguely in this playoff race really because Strome kept things afloat while Zibby’s game was missing and Chytil was hurt.

    I don’t think he’s a bad 3C option long term. Very similar to Brassard. But at this rate, he’s going to be too expensive to have as your third line center. And I really only say that because there’s no real centers coming up.

    Too many wings, no centers. It has to be addressed as there’s just not enough to go around, and we already have talented kids playing small minutes from the squeeze. The same exact issue is coming for the d-men also. I don’t think we need to go after the big Eichel fish necessarily. But there’s a deal to be made somewhere with these extra wingers and d-men coming up to shore up the center position and make some room for players.

  • Strome is very obviously a huge bargain on his current deal. The question is what will his next contract look like? I think we can all agree a short term deal makes a lot of sense, but does he demand a long term deal?

    That’s the real crux of the argument. Only so many cap dollars to go around and several young players to pay in the next several seasons.

    What does Strome’s next deal look like and what would you be comfortable with?

  • One of your better articles, Dave. LOL
    All the guy has done since he got here is produce. For 2 1/2 seasons now. Last year all his critics claimed it was because he played with Panarin. He could never duplicate last year’s production. He played and was productive the year before Panarin, and with Panarin…and also during Panarin’s 2 week absence. He loves the Rangers and visa versa. He’s still continuing to grow as a player. This year he’s much better on defensive side of his game and hasn’t taken lazy penalties. Smart on and off the ice. Make no mistake, Strome is a leader on this team. Don’t underestimate that aspect. His stats say he’s right up there in the top half of FIRST line centers in the entire league. Hopefully next year he’ll improve on his face offs. Never understood the anti-Strome bias on the internet. Yet, I’m sure they’ll be comments wanting to trade him or expose him to Seattle the first chance they get. Next contract sign him for 4 yrs 6-6.5 mil/yr. you could do a lot worse than having Ryan Strome on your team. Look around the league.

    • If Strome takes that deal, then yeah sign me up. Kreider got a lot more term with less production, so take that for what it’s worth.

      • Anything under 8/yr 4 yrs is fine if he’s continuing to produce and keep Panarin happy. Kreider struck gold with a hot streak, team vying for playoff spot and trade deadline converging. I think Panarin and Strome are a great combo and Panarin still gets to play with Zib on PP and in OT. I would think Panarin has a little say about Strome’s future. He is the highest paid star on the team and plays like he’s very happy. I think Strome knows he’s not getting a 7 year deal after this contract is up.

  • There are very few teams in the league that can afford adding another 10 million to the books, especially in the current climate.
    Wait out the Sabres to get the deal they want. If he goes elsewhere, so be it.
    There will be plenty of other 1C /2C available in the off-season
    Possibly Barkov, Nugent -Hopkins, Danault, etc

  • My guess is that Buffalo will insist on Chytl and not Strome. That gives them a center for the next 10 years.

    • Like Strome but if he is your second line center you will always compete for making or missing playoffs. I like him as a player and as a team leader but I do not see him as a good center. No mater if he plays with Ponarin or not

  • If we can putup w Kreider’s up & downs ,we should keep Stromer but beyond his contract next year i would not pay more then $5million for 2 more years. LBut like u said if a good deal for a better Center happens trade him .What we really need is a checking center orr winger who can WIN FACEOFFS

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