For a team in the Canucks position, they should be exploring ways to make improvements throughout the lineup at all times.
Those minor improvements here and there, would result in a tangible improvement without the cost of trading multiple assets for a big name.
Sometimes, players fall out of favour with their current team, and become a possibility to be moved. The Canucks used such a situation to their advantage when they acquired Sven Baertschi from the Calgary Flames.
Ryan Strome’s been healthy scratched twice in a row, and he’s not happy about it https://t.co/xgA9v3ldTg
— Mike Halford (@HalfordPHT) November 29, 2016
There is no doubting his struggles this season, but Strome being a healthy scratch and having trouble getting into the lineup has been something that has been happening since last season. However, Strome is a playmaking centre and winger who produces close to a second line centre level:
As always, Hero charts should not be used as the ‘be all, end all’ of evaluation – but they do provide a concise look at what a player can provide. Looking at that, Strome pushes the needle positively, with the exception of shot suppression.
After being selected 5th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Strome dominated the OHL and AHL before making his way to the NHL. He had a good rookie season in 2013-14, posting 18 points in 37 games. He exploded during the 2014-15 season, putting up 17 goals and 33 assists. He struggled last season, being limited to 8 goals and 20 assists in 71 contests.
So far this season – he has 2 goals and 4 assists in 19 contests.
If you look in deeper into his production, there are still promising signs.
He has seen a dip in his P/60 when looking at his breakout season, but it isn’t a drastic change compared to last season. The 1.21 P/60 would have him ranked 8th amongst Canucks players, behind Henrik Sedin (1.27) and Loui Eriksson (1.17). He has struggled to be on the right side of corsi, posting a disappointing 43.29%. However context is key here.
Here are Strome’s most common line mates at 5v5 so far this season (data from Corsica):
The line of Quine, Prince and Strome fell just below 50%; when you replaced Prince with Beauvillier – they are slightly above the ledger. But when it was Bailey, Strome and Tavares – they got buried.
His other lines were for very short periods of 5v5 play.
If you look at the totality of his time in the NHL, he has posted a CF% of 51.33, and goals for % of 53.02%.
This just reinforces that Strome is having a down year, but looking at the big picture – does help push the needle positively – in an expanded role, you may reap further rewards. You don’t want a 19 game slump this season, where he hasn’t been put in a chance to succeed to cloud the judgement on Strome.
Given all of this information – Strome appears to be a player that is worth exploring as a ‘cheap’ buy. He has a palatable contract of $2.5M per season for the remainder of this season and next.
Henrik Sedin’s age and lack of centre prospects that project to make an impact at the NHL level – Strome seems like a no brainer target for the Canucks. He could join the Canucks now, help while they are beset with injuries. Once everyone gets healthy, it gives them more options throughout the lineup while providing an improvement to their forward group.
The Canucks have Horvat in the fold, adding Strome would create a clearer long term picture at the centre ice position.
The Islanders have drastically underperformed this season, to the point where changes will likely be made. We don’t know what they would require to get the deal done, but you would have to assume they would want an NHL player back, plus something. Thus the price could be something like the Columbus Blue Jackets second round pick (from the John Tortorella hiring) and another piece.
There are obvious non-starters in terms of the ‘other piece’, and we don’t know what the price would be – but if it’s something that the Canucks deem not part of the future.
Alternatively – would a Jake Virtanen and Strome deal make some sense for both sides. The Canucks are a little better situated on the wings in the long term, with Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson and Brock Boeser looking to be parts of the team for a long time. But I don’t know if that falls into the ‘buy-low’ category, even though Virtanen has struggled this year.
If Strome doesn’t work at centre, he has played wing quite regularly – so he could be placed there if needed.
The expansion draft is key here – as Strome will needed to be protected. So moving Virtanen, who is exempt from being protected, and adding a player who needs to be protected would complicate matters.
Do the Canucks have a Cal Clutterbuck hanging around?
A deal that would make sense is a Anthony Duclair for Ryan Strome deal between the Arizona Coyotes and New York Islanders. If that is the case, the Canucks wouldn’t be able to stack up.
Regardless, this is a road that the Canucks would be extremely wise to pursue.
Line data information – from Corsica
Stats from puckalytics.