It’s time for a Ryan Strome extension
Ryan Strome, since coming over from the Edmonton Oilers, has put up 158 points in 208 games and has been one of the better trades Jeff Gorton made. Strome has formed a symbiotic bromance with Artemiy Panarin ever since the two of them were placed on the same line, and they have formed one of the consistently dangerous duos in the NHL. This summer the Rangers have a big decision to make regarding Strome but if they can make the money work, it’s beginning to seem like a no-brainer: it’s time for a Ryan Strome extension.
Strome is a key cog on the Rangers
It can be argued that Strome is just as important to the Rangers as Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, or Adam Fox. It cannot be stated enough how much chemistry matters when building a championship contender. Strome and Panarin have that chemistry in spades and it seems both of them can have eyes in the backs of their heads when they’re on the ice together. It’s been a real treat to watch the two of them play so well off each other, score some gorgeous goals and set up other players for great opportunities. This pairing could not have gone any better for the Rangers.
Another important part of the symbiotic relationship with Panarin and Strome is how much they elevate the play of whomever their other linemate is. It seems that no matter who joins them on a line, whether it’s Jesper Fast, Kaapo Kakko, Colin Blackwell, or Dryden Hunt, they elevate their play. This just helps build the case for a Ryan Strome extension.
Both Fast and Blackwell both became desirable pieces for other teams due to their play with Panarin and Strome. Kakko began his breakout this year playing with them and Dryden Hunt has fit in seamlessly with the duo since Kakko got moved around the lineup. You need players in your lineup who elevate the lineup rather than bringing it down and Strome is a huge part of why the Rangers have the record they do. This team is not 17-5-3 without that second line being as good as they are.
Strome wears an “A” for the club as well, and yes as Rob pointed out on the Live From the Blue Seats podcast this week half the team has an “A,” but it still says something that he is one of an important group of leaders on this team. He has no problems sticking up for his teammates on the ice, as we’ve seen most recently as last game against the Blackhawks when he beat down Ryan Carpenter. He has no problems with the media either and is consistently one of the guys smiling the most and preaching positivity. He has been nothing but a positive impact on this team on the ice as well as through the PR channels and that’s the exact type of player you want in your lineup.
A Ryan Strome extension will be costly
The problem with a Ryan Strome extension is of course the dreaded salary cap. The Rangers are going to have to make some tough decisions this summer if they want to re-sign Strome, Kakko. Kevin Rooney and Sammy Blais. Strome and Kakko are obviously the two biggest names there.
The hope for the Rangers is that Morgan Barron would be able to replace Rooney next year and save them some money. You’d also think Blais would take whatever qualifying offer he is given due to his unfortunate injury this year. The problem comes in re-signing both Kakko and Strome. The sad reality of it is that unless Strome agrees to a discount, we may not see him on the Rangers next season. Unless some tough moves are made.
As Dave mentioned on Live from the Blue Seats, some sacrifices might have to be made to get a Ryan Strome extension. If he doesn’t vibe with a discount of say $5 million a year for the next three to five seasons, the Rangers are going to have to get creative. If he wants even $6 million it would be tough. So who would have to go? As the saying goes you can’t keep everybody.
Barclay Goodrow makes the most sense if there can be a taker this summer. Getting his $3.6 million off the books would help immensely in getting a Ryan Strome extension to work. Finding a taker will be more difficult though.
Another big contract to try to move would be Jacob Trouba’s but with his NMC that would be very very tough considering he would have to waive it. This team might not want to get rid of Trouba either way since he has been an absolute force this year for the team. Ditto Chris Kreider, who isn’t going anywhere, especially after this start that he’s been having.
Patrik Nemeth would be a good name to look at to move as well. He makes $2.5 million and freeing that chunk of change would help going a long way towards a Ryan Strome extension. He could easily be replaced by one of Zac Jones, Braden Schneider or Tarmo Reunanen next season, meaning another promising young prospect would get a chance on the blue line while being able to retain Strome. This is the optimal move to make.
Will a Ryan Strome extension cost Ryan Lindgren?
Dave did have another suggestion on the pod but it’s not a popular one: Ryan Lindgren.
I can already hear the moans and groans from those reading this for even suggesting the team moves Ryan Lindgren. But the fact of the matter is he makes $3 million dollars and, not saying it would be easy, but he is the most replaceable of the top four defense corps. He’s also the one who least likely makes you regret trading him, especially since K’Andre Miller’s ceiling is so high (Brent Burns’ career path is a fair one to make).
The Rangers will most likely not even entertain this idea and in no way is this an endorsement of getting rid of Lindgren (Dave even said he doesn’t want to go this route, listen to the pod!). This is simply one of the few paths forward to re-signing Strome and one the Rangers could explore. At the end of the day, his offense is replaceable and you would hope one of the Rangers defensive prospects would be able to replace him on the top pair.
Another option is, if the team is confident in not getting a deal done, to trade Strome at the deadline. This is the probably the worst option out there because I don’t think any return would make the kind of impact that Strome has. If another center is acquired they would have to establish chemistry with Panarin and whoever the other winger may be just a month and a half before the playoffs would begin. It’s a gamble that might not pay off. Names that have been thrown out there are Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller, Artturi Lehkonen and Calle Jarnkrok among others. None of these guys is that much, if at all, an upgrade over Strome and honestly, the Rangers best option might be treating Strome as an own-rental.
Keeping Strome around past the deadline, even with the contract situation hanging over him, is the smart move for the Rangers and what happens in the playoffs can help the Rangers make their decision on him. As discussed on the podcast this week, if Strome kills it, performs well in the playoffs and the Rangers can win a round or two, the Rangers will be more than happy to figure out how to keep him in New York, at least until the end of Panarin’s deal. If he wilts in the playoffs and ends up not playing well… well that changes how this summer will be approached. Fans will also have an easier time dealing with him leaving if he doesn’t perform well in the playoffs.
I owe Strome an apology, as do many other Rangers fans. Despite his great offensive numbers and chemistry with the team’s resident superstar, he was subjected to vitriol from a lot of the fan base when he committed any type of mistakes. This year has made me come around on Strome a lot and I’m sure it has for other people as well. His play on ice, his leadership abilities, his repor with the media and his attitude have all helped him become an indispensable part of this iteration of the New York Rangers.
I’m sorry for being so hard on you Stromer, stick around will ya?