Prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, Ryan Strome’s future in New York was certainly in question. He was in need of a new contract, and the organization appeared to be at a crossroads when it came to committing term and money to the now 28-year old. Ultimately, both sides came to an agreement and avoided salary arbitration after agreeing to a two-year, $9 million extension.
Fresh off of his brand new contract, Ryan Strome entered the year penciled in as the number two center once again. Along with any pay increase comes heightened expectations, and Strome definitely had the added pressure to build off of his impressive 2019-20 campaign. There were some question marks heading into the year again, though, with last year’s numbers suggesting that Strome was merely a byproduct of Artemiy Panarin’s impact. As a result, Strome was vaulted under the microscope right from the start of the season.
Ryan Strome suited up in all 56 games during the COVID-19 shortened season, and had easily one of his best statistical seasons to date. His 14 goals, 35 assists and and 49 points landed him third on the team in overall scoring and put him at a 72-point pace over a regular 82-game schedule. All things considered from a production standpoint, the Rangers’ second-line center certainly delivered with another milestone season.
Comparing Strome’s player cards prior to his arrival in New York until now, there’s pretty obvious differences. After nearly dropping off a cliff in Edmonton, Strome has found his way offensively with the Rangers, and has steadily built on that success from year-to-year. It’s also worth mentioning that Strome’s shooting percentage has started to fall more in line with his career average of 10.4%, compared to the 22.5% during the 2018-19 season.
The consistent offensive growth from season-to-season and a more reasonable shooting percentage lines up with what Strome’s RAPM chart shows from this past season. He’s become more of a play driver with the puck, rather than capitalizing on the strong play of his linemates. Don’t get me wrong, anyone playing with Artemiy Panarin has way better results by association and Strome has certainly benefitted, but it’s nice to see Strome grow into more of an offensive driver this season.
On the other end of the puck, however, Strome’s defensive game still could use some work, although he may never become that type of player.
I plan to write about these three eventually.— Rob Luker (@RLuker12) May 22, 2021
Zib's decline is inevitable but his floor has been consistent.
Yes, Strome creates offense, but his defense is still lacking and that gap between GAR & xGAR is inescapable (12%+ on-ice shooting).
Can't ask much more of Chytil. pic.twitter.com/Kwrhr4rbst
That being said, Strome’s playmaking ability has always outweighed what he provides in the defensive zone, so it’s a little easier to gloss over the slight deficiencies in that area of his game.
Final Grade: B+
Banter Consensus: A-
Even with all of his recent success over the past three seasons, Strome’s future in New York still seems extremely uncertain. His name has come up in trade rumors dating back to last season, and even more so this current offseason as he has been linked to the Seattle Kraken, Ottawa Senators and Vegas Golden Knights.
The Rangers are obviously trying to upgrade at center as they move closer towards their contention window, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.
Uncertain future aside though, Strome’s grade stems from him being, hands down, the most consistent center throughout the season. Mika Zibanejad went through a considerable slump to start the year, but Strome picked up the slack in that regard and took steps forward in his performance once again.