Under Pressure: Ryan Strome

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This post is part of Islanders Day on PHT…

It’s safe to say that the 2015-16 season didn’t go according to plan for Islanders forward Ryan Strome. After scoring 17 goals and 50 points the previous season, the Islanders opened last season with Strome on John Tavares‘ wing. Unfortunately for the team and the player, things just didn’t work out and Strome finished with just eight goals and 28 points.

The 23-year-old’s string of poor performances even forced the Islanders to send him to the minors last November. The eight-game stint in Bridgeport didn’t really turn Strome’s NHL season around as much as the Islanders would have hoped.

The Islanders invested a fifth overall pick in Strome back in 2011. Having him be a healthy scratch in three of their 11 postseason games last spring definitely wasn’t part of their original development plan, but his overall play didn’t leave the Isles with much of a choice.

“Last series [the message was] I needed to be a little harder to play against,” Strome told Newsday after being announced as a healthy scratch during the second round series against Tampa. “Points don’t always tell the whole story. I’m always confident in my game, but unfortunately I don’t make the decisions. I have to live with it.”

The discrepancy between Strome’s 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons is likely causing contract negotiations to drag on this summer. Strome is a restricted free agent and the two sides still haven’t come to terms on a new deal. Assuming a deal gets done, the Islanders could certainly use a boost in production from their young forward next season.

The Islanders were able to add Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and P.A. Parenteau in free agency, but they also lost Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. Can the three newcomers produce as much as the three players who left? Probably not. That’s where Strome can make a difference. Re-gaining his scoring touch would help close the point gap between the trio that left Brooklyn and the three new forwards coming in.