Is there a better bargain than Ryan Strome?

For my first post back, I thought I would offer my opinion on one of the most divisive players in Rangerland: Ryan Strome. It irritates me that so many people constantly talk about Strome purely as a trade chip. I get it…he’s not a darling of the analytics community. But is the grass always greener on the other side? Can the Rangers get a better bargain than Ryan Strome?

Strome is currently 21st in scoring in the league. That’s not a typo. Last year he was 42nd. He’s rocking a 76-point pace per 82 games this year. Last year he had a 69 point pace. He’s proven he can play away from Artemi Panarin. He’s proven he can deliver offense. The biggest knock on Strome for me is that he doesn’t score enough goals. If you’re the Rangers and you have Mika Zibanejad at 1C, and you have to “settle” for a 2C that scores between 60-70 points, you take that every day.

He has a fantastic cap hit, and you’d hope – with a flat cap – that Strome and the Rangers could find sensible common ground on a new contract. Is Strome (at the right number – of course) more valuable to the Rangers on the roster or would you prefer futures?

The obsession with moving on from Strome irritates me. It also irritates me that many think he wouldn’t fetch much in a trade. Why not? He’s a top scorer for 2 years, is cheap and is prime age. Come on guys. Stop talking the guy down. Do some basic research and find out how many teams have two centers who are averaging between 60-70 points in their top six. Spoiler: There are not many. Are the Rangers too pass happy and is Strome part of that issue? Sure. That’s not this teams major issue though.

For me the question isn’t if the Rangers can contend with having Strome long term in the 2C spot, it’s whether their future cap dollars are best spent on the 2C spot or whether that money should be spent elsewhere.  I say spend it elsewhere (I smell a follow up opinion piece).

The obsession over “upgrading” on Strome needs to stop (again, price allowing). He’s a core part of this team who meshes well with this team’s best player. What the Rangers need to do is find out what they really have in Filip Chytil, and whether they need to get a different type of center for their middle six. Do the Rangers need a bigger, physical presence? Does that necessarily need to be at the expense of Ryan Strome? I don’t think so.

The pros of Strome outweigh the cons. Would I rip this team apart for Eichel or Barkov at the expense of Strome? Absolutely not. Are Eichel and/or Barkov better players? Sure. Are they that much better that they are worth multiple prospects, picks, roster players? No.

Contending in the cap era is as much about cap and asset management as it is anything else. I’m not married to Ryan Strome emotionally as a fan, but he’s proven himself a legitimate bargain 2C. Jeff Gorton would be better advised finding a rough, physical presence for the middle six and add a veteran presence to support the young blueline than chase the media obsessions that are Eichel / Barkov. Gorton doesn’t always choose the popular route. Let’s see how he goes about dealing with this pivotal decision.

Admin note: Looks like the old school BSB guys are getting that itch. Chris is back and writing again. Always glad to have him back.

From Chris: Thank you for having me back. It’s been a while, to say the least. I never miss a Rangers game. The problem is, I don’t get to watch as much live as I used to. Hey, life gets in the way, especially when you’re 5 time zones away and you’re in work most days around 2 hours after games end. My life usually has me getting up watching the delayed game at 5.30am. Not ideal…

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  • Agree. Do note that in the closing minutes of tight games with the Rangers leading, Strome is sent out to protect the lead. The coaches have far more confidence in Strome that the media sages. Your comments on Chytil seem to imply that he is undersize. He is listed at 6-2, 206 pounds. But, yes, plays too much like 175 pounder.

      • Didn’t say Chytil was a problem. As a matter of fact, were he to use his size and strength, he could probably become a #1.

        • #2 is fine … and he doesn’t play like he’s 175. Averaging over half a point a game on the 3rd line, no PP time … the kid should be allowed to develop.

  • I’m not sure how Barkov has gotten in rumors. Eichel had famous quotes about not being happy with missing playoffs every season so, understandable that he might be dealt. Both are huge upgrades over Strome. Size, skating and much better all around players. Both capable of putting up more points. I know he’s still young, but I feel Chytil is someone weee constantly going to be “hoping” becomes 2C. Last years playoff and last Isles game showed how we’re not going to be a serious contender with Strome as 2C. Waiting for kids to develop will also mean wasting another year or 2 of vets prime years. Ideally, Strome “bargain” price would go other way in a trade for Eichel to offset cap hit. They’d probably prefer Chytil though, in which case I’d try to move Strome in a superset deal.

    • You are talking like Sather not a rebuilder. I’m done with that type of thinking. It doesn’t work.

    • Forget Eichel & Barkov! I would deal Chytil to Winnipeg for Schiefele and a pick. He is signed for (2) more years at 6 mil. and you keep Strome and make him the 3rd line center. Scheifele is 6’3″ 215 lbs. and plays with grit. You solidify the center position (Mika-1, Scheifele-2, Strome-3 and Barron-4) Size and strength down the middle. Winnipeg is in cap hell so they will be looking for some young talent. And saving the 4 mil more we be giving Eichel we could sign both Buch and Strome!

  • Chris, really good spot on post. It’s like, because the man-cost for Strome was the addition by the subtraction of Spooner the stink of being traded for that bag of pucks has stuck on Strome. Lately more people started jumping off the ‘sell high on Strome’ bandwagon. But some perceptions die hard.

    He’s a solid #2 center as you say, in his prime. And he was free. Why trade a gift horse just because of what he is?

    • Because he is not true #2C, look at his numbers, 3rd of the points coming from PP, only 20 pts 5 on 5 playing 5 on 5 on average 15+ minutes, for example Chytil this season has the same 20 5 on 5 points for 35 games and playing less then 12.5 minutes a game without Breadman.

      Stromes numbers are deceptive, therefore it wouldn’t be that easy to trade him for his points number value.

  • I’ve wondered about this myself. It’s not like we have centers galore in the system right now. How would Panarin respond to this question?

  • Strome is a bargain THIS year, and next. If he continues (and playing with Panarin he surely will), He won’t be a $4.5 million player. As you note, he’s good for the Rangers as a bargain. And I agree about Barkov and/or Eichel. They’re great, but no way you can keep Mika with the expensive and potentially (let’s face it, likely) expensive wingers we have. You just can’t exchange one of them for Strome and expect to sign Mika. Do I wish the NHL would move to a soft cap with a luxury tax, or Bird-like rule to allow teams to keep their own players. YES, but that’s not what we have. We have to have money for Shesty, Fox, Miller, Kakko, and seemingly most important Laffy, who will be last to get paid. And that doesn’t even count Lindgren, Kravtsov, or any of the others coming up. A good problem to have, but still a problem. Ultimately, I think some of our decisions will be based on who will cost what, as they’re all great.

    The problem is have with Strome is we need a center that can win face-offs, can play a 200 ft game, and has some toughness, and can play in the top 6. I wonder why we haven’t talked about Sean Monahan. He’ll be cheaper than either Eichel or Barkov, and it looks like Calgary is going to blow it up after the season, so probably easier/cheaper to get

    • Strome actually had better defensive numbers than Monaghan. He’s looked at as this defensive upgrade around the league but really he’s more of a poor mans Mika, just with slightly better faceoff numbers.
      You can afford a big name and one of Mika and strome for a bit. Then other contracts will have to be shipped out. Krieders contract is going to hurt. As will the bloated truba contract, even tho he’s a great player to have- that extra 1.5-2.0mil he’s making on that contract is going to hurt.

    • I agree and Sean Monahan is someone I would have never looked at. Very solid point.

      But your point about calgary blowing things up brought to light another serious issue we have coming up. There a ton of teams that are not just over the cap, but significantly over the cap and if we could negotiate our way into one of those cap dumps we could find ourselves in a completely different situation next season.

      Underscoring we make the right deals. Which with this franchise is a big if.

  • Strome plain and simple is a team hockey player. As Parcells said about Simms, “you will miss when he’s gone”. Strome will be missed. He is the proverbial….bird in hand.
    Good piece of writing by Chris.

  • The Rangers are a 5th place team in a 7 team division. Strome is a highly skilled center iceman but still needs to improve the defensive part of his game. He has 1 year left on the his contract as does Zibanejad. Fox also becomes a RFA the same next year. They all will want big raises.

    The Rangers will not have enough cap room to sign both centers. Hence the trade speculation, because someone on the team will have to be moved to create cap room.

    The other option is to do nothing and let Strome and teammate Zib contacts expire at the end if next season. At that point the Ranger front office can decide to sign one or neither.

    • Yeah, 5th place … the 4 teams ahead of us are 4 of the best teams in the League, period … and all within a couple of points of each other. If we had started the year with a healthy Mika and hadn’t lost Panarin for 2+ weeks after the “hit job” we would probably be right on their tail competing with the best. Any other division and we’re playoff bound.

      • I know what your saying Tanto the Rangers did lose a lot of man games this season. Mika was not at his best at the beginning of the season as he was still recovering from Covid. The Rangers are a better team when healthy for sure.

        However, even when healthy they can’t find a way to beat the Penguins or Fishsticks. As we saw lately they also can’t beat the Flyers or Buffalo 2 games back to back.

        If your best players want the big bucks, they need to be a top team. Unfortunately they haven’t delivered.

        • Have they lost more games than they’ve won against those top 4 teams? Yes … but they’re also so much younger than these teams and the same points apply, they lost games without Panarin and/or Mika (seriously affected by Covid) against those teams as well. Plus add the ADA factor, that wouldn’t have been expected by any team and GM.

  • He’s a bargain for sure. The question is what his next contract will be. If a team threw 50 million over 7 years at Kevin never scored 50 points Hayes, what will it take to lock Strome up?

      • Everyone needs to stop talking about Eichel/Barkov and Strome as if one would replace the other. Those players aren’t in the conversation to replace the 2C. The decision is whether they re sign Zibanejad at 28 or let him go/trade him and then bring in one of those premier early 20’s centers.

  • Strome is a C+ centerman. He is not very good on face-offs and is horrendous on the boards to win a puck. He is not physical and whenever we had a big game to make a statement, he dissappears like Kreider. He is not the long term anwser if we want to win a cup. I’m sorry but the eye test doesn’t lie. If we keep him 1 more year so be it but I am not hestitating to trade him in the right package. Breadman has proven he can play with anyone. Kravs is a star in the making and would be a offensive threat killing penalities as well.

    • That’s all well and good, so what do you think of Chytil? Can he be our 2C and then Strome at 3C? Point is, Chris was talking about Stromes current contract and the possibility of a team friendly next deal. Not if some other team throws ridiculous numbers at him. So if we sign him it has to be at a team friendly deal before the trade deadline. See if he’s interested in staying and getting Rangers to the promised land or chasing a couple of more bucks. Up to him but a conversation needs to be had. 60-70 point centers are not growing on trees.

      • Chytil is simply not a center. With the puck on his stick, he gets tunnel vision “which way is the net boys?” good forward thinking. I like stats as well as the next guy, I think. Watching him play and Strome play are 2 different things. Could be experience….I don’t see him skate with his head up. Keep Strome, it’s the smart move.

  • Good post!

    Stromer has proven to be a hell of a steal. And while his 5vs5 stats can see a little improvement….he is a plus 10 at even strength. Far and away our best center in this particular area.

    I did a little more looking at 5vs5, I actually like Barkov over Mika. The stats are not favoring Mika in anyway. I think the trend should be to sell high on Mika even though he is a fan favorite. I know this would not be the most popular idea. (lot of lost dollars of jerseys) But if you look deeper into mika’s underlying stats it does not paint him in a very good light.

    mika has a line of 34 GF vs. 32 GA while at even strength and having a ATOI at 5vs5 of 13:59 a game. Of those 34 GF….he personally is responsible for 20% of them. (he only has 7 even strength goals out of 16.) And 2 came against the Pens while giving up 9 at even strength against this same opponent. That is a downright awful showing. That has happened consistently throughout his career against the best centers in the league. It is why he is never considered for any top 10 lists. Or nhl awards like the selke.

    Strome has a line of 43 GF vs 33 GA getting 14:08 a night of 5vs5. We all know the catalyst of these numbers is largely based off of Panarin.
    (Panarin is 41GF and 23 GA while potting 29% of those himself.)

    I mean Barkov seems like the answer. Barkov’s line reads 41 GF and 26 GA at 5vs5…and contributing 39% of this total while his ATOI in 5vs5 is 15:51. I would argue that he plays in a tougher division with way less talent surrounding him.

    Look, I believe the Eichel rumors are just that …rumors. No one is going to take on that cap hit with his injury issues. But we need to upgrade at center and unlike the majority…. I don’t think our issues lie in our 2nd or 4th line centers. I believe our issues lie with our overall lack of center depth with just a misley 6 natural centers on our roster. And the quality of our overall number 1 center. Florida has 10 centers on their roster out of a possible 16 forwards. That changes the game. It gives coaches options for matchups and each individual brings their own strengths and weakness for the coach to utilize.

    In a perfect world we could keep Mika, and Strome long term. But that isn’t going to be the case. We need depth and we need it soon. Cause the beginning of this season and mika’s downright horrible play exposed us in every possible way. And following that up with his downright disappointing showing against the islanders the other night makes the case in more pertinent to move on.

    • Once again Laf great point. The Rangers only so much capspace to go around. Keeping Strome over Mika could give the Rangers more bang for their cap buck. I wonder what Zibanejad could fetch in a offseason deal?

      • That is my train of thought on this issue.

        While it seems Strome would be the better trade asset since most fans believe he is only as good as Panarin lets him be …he obviously has proved otherwise.

        Mika is the opposite and I think all the GM’s would most likely agree that mika has a higher value and higher upside. So it is time to sell high and reap the rewards.

        I think a first line center and a prospect or two from another franchise would not be considered insane. I am not talking about proven 1st line centers that have a history of dominating the nhl. I talking more the guys like Barkov who are just entering their prime and still have a ton to prove. Nugent Hopkins is another. Sam Reinhart could be another but he is truly undervalued coming out of buffalo. I liked him 2 or 3 years ago and thought he would be a great steal then. I think you could get a lot of assets like carolina did for skinner by sending mika to buffalo in a trade. And just hope we have better luck then Carolina did in developing these assets.

    • I agree with you Laffy – How about that 🙂

      The hard cap makes it about asset management as much as collecting talented players. Injured Eichel (neck / disc / nerve damage, which is serious for a hockey player) at $10MM per plus giving up key cheap talent makes no sense.

      They need to look at swapping young D talent (especially with several similar smallish players) – I think Jones gets moved for young center talent. You can’t win in the NHL with a top heavy team of 5- 6 guys at $7-10MM each.

      I will trust that JD knows what he is doing until proven otherwise. I think DQ is replaced as soon as JD feels the team is ready to compete for the Cup. It will be a fun off season and looking forward to the beginning of a serious run being in contention for the Cup!

      • God I love the optimism on here. I have been a fan for so long I just have lost it over the years. I think JD is not running the show. If he truly was pulling the strings I think gorton would be a goner.

        I mean look at who JD hired as GM in Columbus. Every move Jarko makes seems crazy, but the vast majority of time his moves pan out. And anyone who says anything about today’s jackets, there really is nothing jarko can do about being a small market team and not being able to keep his free agents and higher end players do to team cap restraints and players like Bread wanting to play in a larger market. But even with the Dubois situation(which was very similar to ADA) he was able to turn that into a 2C and and a 1st line elite scoring winger. WHAT A STEAL! We got what again for ADA? BAHAHAHH!

        I mean would you keep gorton if you were in JD’s position? I think his position came with strings attached. And not just a couple.

        But all that aside… I agree. Turning in some of these defensive prospects for center prospects is a must this offseason. As far as who …I have no clue. Wouldn’t even know where to start looking. But that is why I am a armchair GM and not making millions doing it for real. JD and Gorton certainly have their hands full after this season. Cause in order to make sense of signing Trouba and Panarin to those long deals you have to start roughly contending next season. And while my pessimism tells me it is highly unlikely, the peter’s and DQ’s from winning are giving me hope.

        If we suck again next year I am really going to be pissed at you guys! 😂

  • ” Jeff Gorton would be better advised finding a rough, physical presence for the middle six and add a veteran presence to support the young blueline than chase the media obsessions that are Eichel / Barkov.” Bingo! Well said Chris.

    Yes Chris, Gorton would also be better advised to move from Strome or cut a better deal. Cannot leave out trading Kreider could facilitate bringing in rough physical players for the middle six and veteran presence to support Rangers’ young defense. Rangers would improve big time from the inclusion of rough, physical support that the Rangers lack, and other teams’ players take advantage of. How the Rangers could pay their players millions, and leave them as target practice for opponents. Thought Davidson would have corrected that failure. Trouba not playing is a painful example of that omission.

    • I agree about getting a policeman who can play,but Kreider has a NMC, so that salary is going nowhere.

  • They had to move up Fil year and half ago. No they have again to ask questions what to do with Strome… Who is not tradable, because everybody knows, take Bread of Strome and he is going to be old good Strome 🙂

  • Strome was originally selected in 2011, the first round by the Islanders 5th overall. He had a very good minor league career and was viewed as a potential future star He hit a bump in the road in his professional career, but has blossomed into a very good talented player in the NHL as anticipated. He is also not a pushover and though not frequent, has dropped his gloves in the past when challenged. He has proven that he can be very effective even without the Breadman feeding him. Glad to see that he has finally gotten the credit due him. He is an important piece with the Rangers.

    • HE is not proven, and if you compare Strome and Fil assists and goals per 60 minutes – numbers are comparable, now switch Strome and Fil

  • Strome is getting it done as the 2C right now. There’s no doubt about it. Long-term, no. But if he were to get bumped to 3C either by Chytil or someone we trade for, then we have some serious depth down the middle. I think some would like a tougher guy there, with better face offs and better defensive play. But I would see him more as a Derrick Brassard type 3C. You can have him out there with Kreider and Kravvy as a really good 3rd line, and going against teams 3rd defensive pairs. And you also know he can slide back up to 2C if/when the other center slips a little in play.

    This season is a washout without Strome. Zibby was invisible, Chytil was hurt, and Panarin was on leave. Strome was here just putting up points no matter who he played with.

    Everyone loves the Colin Blackwell story. But Strome coming to the NYR is an even better one. The guy we traded for him was out of the NHL altogether just a few months later, and Strome was on his last chance to stick in the NHL long-term. If he sucked here, he would be rooming with Ryan Spooner somewhere in Switzerland by now. The guy saved his whole career here, and is great in the locker room. And he’s underrated, cheap, and very good. One of the better trades JG has made honestly…

  • I have a problem with the center situation in general or more aptly an issue with my #1 winger being unable to play with my #1 center. Panarin was bought with the sole purpose of being on that first line with Zbad.

    So in that regard, I have a #1 center issue. Strome is the #1 center because he is getting #1 center ice time or do I have a winger issue ?

    If kreider and buchnevich are expendable, then why need zbad?

    Next season they need to play on the same line. Otherwise you have a 1a 1b lineup ? And we don’t need a 2nd line center we need a 1b center

    I would want to see panarin and zbad together the rest of the way.

  • you NAILED it!! I’m tired of the Strome bashing from the clueless. And, keep in mind, not everybody can play with Artemi and be better AND help him be better. Strome has proven that he CAN!! Not to mention he’s an integral part of the NYR power play.

  • I agree the Strome is a better option than Eichel with loss of high draft picks and prime prospects. Additionally, one must consider the down yr effect his $10m cap hit will have on the roster. Chytll looks to be an effective 3C (growing into a 2C) and who knows about Barron and other C prospects in the pipeline.

  • For the millionth time, if the kids are not involved in all facets of the game, then it doesn’t matter who our vets are.

    We have 2 years of proof. Our vets have had career years, and the Rangers are a .500 team. The FO needs to get this through their thick heads.

    This season was a complete waste and the rangers did not do what they said that they would do.

    Thank God this was a nonpaying year, tickets wise.

  • To answer the question in the headline. No, there is not. Chris, I couldn’t agree more, I look at Strome as part of the solution to solving the Cupless issue, not the problem. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. Nice job, Chris, good to have you back.

  • This team put out a mission statement that said their goal was to build a team that was going to win multiple Cups. They told fan base to be patient then last year at the trade deadline rather than trading Krieder, Strome & Fast making the #8 playoff spot becomes the priority. Krieder & Strome are not going be better in their 30s than they are now and this team isn’t a playoff contender. You brought up asset management putting 14% of cap space towards 2 players who will be 3rd liners in 2 seasons ( if these 2 are getting top six minutes in 2 seasons this team isn’t competing for the playoffs) isn’t great asset management.

    • Wonder what you would be saying if the Rangers were below the Devils in the standings? Likely that is where they would be if they followed your plan. They still have to make money and sell tickets ( eventually ). You can’t just give up on a number of seasons just to go for the Cup in another.

      • They’re ahead of Philadelphia in the standings as well and still on outside looking in when it comes to making the playoffs. That’s why they’ve won only 1 Stanley Cup in 81 years. Rather than going through the growing pains of letting 18-21 year olds develop they sell their fan base that complacent under achievers like Strome & Krieder are going lead the team to the promise land because they’re such great clubhouse guys.

        • They’re ahead of Philly because the Flyers are a bad team and AV doesn’t have a HOF goalie, lol.

  • Chris, your article nails it. No question about how valuable Strome has been and his cost relative to his value has made him the best bargain around–especially factoring in trading Ryan Spooner to get him!

    You are correct, the question becomes whether they pay him a long term, much more expensive contract as he becomes older. The Rangers would be wise to look at younger alternatives not named Eichel before giving Strome a long term contract. That goes for any team considering whether to contract with a player who is Strome’s age–he will be 28 in July. Then you make the choice.

  • Here’s a bargain idea: play Lafreniére, Chytil, Kakko, and Kravtsov as many minutes as Zib, Kreider, Strome, and Panarin, and see how much improved production they offer. All four of these guys are on their 1st contract and cost pennies compared to the Panarin/Trouba tax bracket.

    Keep Strome—it is beyond foolish to trade a 60-point center who is under contract for one more season at $4.5 million. Look at how many overpaid pivots there are in the NHL. People asked Strome to do it again after last year, and he did. Strome even got Kreider going on a hot streak this year when Panarin was out.

    And lastly, I’m not a huge fan of Sean Monahan. He’s an 8-year veteran already, and his production has cratered the last 2 years. He is no improvement over Strome, IMO.

  • I have been wondering about this a lot. The Rangers have a great foundation, yet they are lacking. Mika, Stomer and Chytil is not terrible top three center depth. Rooney, Blackwell and possibly Barron are pretty good 4th line center options. The centers, in a vacuum, are not bad. They’re pretty good. With that said, I am bummed we did not get Bennett. He would be great for our top 9 and plays hard.

    I was floored that Georgiev gets run over with Miller standing right there and 6’5″ Miller does nothing. I love Miller, but that was hard to watch.

    Changing out the centers is not the only way to improve this team. With such a stacked D and so many great wings, it’s easy to focus on center. They need more heart/high motor players. A Reeves type would be good, but I don’t think is necessary. We need a few more players like Mangiapane, Engvall, Greenway, Hintz, Cirelli, etc. would be huge. They’ve drafted some kids like Cuylle, Schneider, Endstrom and others but how many outside of Schneider will make the NHL.

    They are close. They need some tinkering, just not sure it has to be at Center.

  • You are correct, Strome has played beyond anyone’s dreams, and he is cost effective. However, does he make Panarin better or vice versa? Is he going to put up that many points on another line? As I said above, you are correct. But to be a number 3 line center, isn’t Chytil a better deal at this time. They need a #2 that makes others better.

  • Everyone has to remember all the Dead Cap the Rangers have from 4yrs of buyouts. There will be money to go around, some players are going to have realise 2 things
    1) Accept the fact they cant all be $10 million dollar contracts
    2) Take less ala Sid in Pitt or you’ll be moved like Hayes was. Does anyone in their right mind Hayes earned, deserved that over blown contract, he sure hasnt lived up to it. Dead Cap Space may just be why Gorton’s hands are tied right now

  • Ryan has been way more than anyone thought he would be or could be and him and the bread man seem to get along just fine but now I want to see one of the kids on that line with them Black was done a lot more than we ever thought he would but it’s time for one of the kids to move up on that line but I’m glad to see someone finally says Ryan shouldn’t be going anywhere I don’t want to see is give away the farm to upgrade a position that’s pretty damn good already

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