Ryan Strome seemed to feel he took a positive step with the Islanders when Doug Weight took over behind the bench in January.
He had a five-game point streak (seven points in that time) and a pair of three-point performances for the Islanders before a broken wrist ended his regular season. On Thursday, he was dealt to a new team, as the Oilers and Islanders made a trade. Going the other way to New York is Jordan Eberle.
“He was great for me,” said Strome of Weight following today’s trade. “Little disappointed I got hurt but I was starting to feel really good and that’s the best I’ve felt in a couple of years.”
Selected fifth overall in 2011, Strome is two years removed from a 17-goal, 50-point sophomore season in the NHL. But he’s never reached more than 30 points in each of the past two years, and the frustrating times continued when he was made a healthy scratch earlier this season with Jack Capuano behind the bench.
Eberle called this trade a fresh start for himself. The same can be applied to Strome.
From an Oilers perspective, the motive for today’s deal, based on the comments of Edmonton’s general manager Pete Chiarelli, was to free up cap space. Strome has one more year left on a two-year, $5 million deal that has an annual cap hit of $2.5 million. The priority is to get pending restricted free agent Leon Draisaitl, as well as the organization’s phenom and Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid, a pending RFA at the end of next season, under contract.
A fresh start for Strome could mean an opportunity to play alongside McDavid or Draisaitl.
A number of times during his media availability, Strome mentioned how excited he was to go to Edmonton. Playing on a line with one of — or both — McDavid or Draisaitl is a valid reason why.
“I remember sitting in my basement a couple of months ago watching the playoffs. I was like, ‘Holy, these guys are good players,'” said Strome.
“I played with (John Tavares) a little bit, so I kind of know how those great players are. John’s a very one-on-one type player, but Connor and Leon, just the way they distribute the puck and how they can skate, their skill is just exceptional.”