Monday, April 1, 2019

Ryan Strome Autographed Card

When historians sit down to write the story of the 2018-19 hockey season, a few story lines will stand out:

- It's the year the Columbus Blue Jackets went all-in.
- It's the year Shea Weber started noticeably regressing.
- It's the year Roberto Luongo's injuries became a bigger story than his on-ice performances.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning's regular-season domination.
- Nikita Kucherov joined the "best player" conversation.
- The CWHL announced it was ceasing its operations, just a week after the Calgary Inferno beat the Montréal Canadiennes in the Clarkson Cup Final.
- The Chicago Blackhawks' offense finally retained (Alex DeBrincat) and acquired (Dylan Strome) offensive talent instead of trading it away (Teuvo Teravainen).
- The Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers redefined "rock bottom".

That last point is where I want to look to shed yet another light on how bad GM Peter Chiarelli's tenure was, via oft-maligned former 5th overall (2011, New York Islanders) draft pick Ryan Strome.

After four seasons of Juniors hockey, Strome finished the 2012-13 season in the AHL (7 points in 10 games), and spent the following year bouncing up and down between the Isles and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before posting a 50-point season on Long Island in 2014-15.

After two sub-par seasons in the 30-point range, Chiarelli acquired his services in exchange for Jordan Eberle, a move that was supposed to be lateral in terms of offensive production (it was thought that playing alongside either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would re-launch Strome), at half of Eberle's salary for a few couple of seasons, as Strome is younger.

Unfortunately, Strome was only able to put up 36 points in 100 games over a season and change in Edmonton, prompting them to send him packing to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Spooner, a player they would put on waivers just a few months later.

In Manhattan, Strome has put up 31 points in 60 games, a 42-point pro-rated production on an entire season, which is an improvement, particularly considering the Rangers are in full "rebuild" mode, although there is concern that his luck may run out at some point, as his underlying numbers are unsustainable.

The Rangers are in fairly good hands for their rebuild, with young veterans Mika Zibanejad (25 years old) and Chris Kreider (27) leading a pack comprised of Pavel Buchnevich (23), Jimmy Vesey (25), Brady Skjei (24), Vladislav Namestnikov (25), Filip Chytil (18), Brendan Lemieux (22), Fredrik Claesson (25) and goalie Alexandar Georgiev (22). Add a lucky middle-of-the-pack first-rounder or two, or a top-three pick in the next couple of years and you've got yourself a team that's fighting for the playoffs again.

Where does Strome fit in there? Well, he may not, unless he keeps producing. His brother Dylan's turning his career around in Chicago, though, so everything's still possible.

Here is Ryan playing for the OHL's Niagara IceDogs:
It's card #69 from In The Game's 2012-13 Heroes And Prospects set, which he signed in blue sharpie last December.

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